Over 1,500 people marched in Southampton Village to end police brutality and systemic racism on Thursday night. Held at 6:00 p.m., the protest was very youthful and impassioned, with less care for social distancing than previous gatherings on the East End. Pain and anger were on display, and yet protestors maintained a seriousness about the activities throughout.
Another marked difference was the heavy police presence, with tens of State Troopers guarding the Village Police Department during the marching. In addition to local officers, there were cars from Southold PD, as well as a police drone.
Chanting “hey hey, ho ho, the racist cops have got to go,” protestors walked from Agawam, down Windmill Lane, up the 27A bypass, and then made a sudden turn right on Main Street. The local police did not appear to know about the route and frantically cleared Main Street of cars as protestors continued their marching towards Jobs Lane.
Shopworkers came out to film the protest, with smiles of solidarity. Led by the youth, the chanting and protesting seemed more impassioned and organized than previously, which leader Eric Williams said was because “the word is spreading.”
The 41-year-old lives in Riverhead, and organized the night’s event with Anoubi Exum. Founder of the summer “Stop the Violence” basketball tournament, Williams said that the police brutality needs to stop.
“Rodney King was 30 years ago… what did we learn?” Williams said after the event.
Once protestors reached Jobs Lane, they were told by march leader Trevon Jenkins, 19, to lay on the ground for eight minutes and 46 seconds to commemorate how long George Floyd was pinned on the ground by the police. Leading attendees in moving chants, the organizers yelled “mama, I can’t breathe” and “stop killing me.”
Jenkins implored white people to “finish this. Abolish this. It doesn’t have to be like this. Talk to your parents at the dinner table.”
Shinnecock member Amira Nation, 20, began burning sage to bring clarity to the protests and to stand in solidarity with her black brothers and sisters.
The youthful nature of the protest was on display with colorful signs that featured lettering on both the back and front. Many locals were in attendance, including Village Mayor Jesse Warren and Dr. Richard ‘Junie’ Wingfield.
Attendees marched back to Agawam Park, where various community members shared information and stories over a loudspeaker. Maci Randall, 29, spoke about the legacy of the three-fifths law, in which the constitution counted five slaves as three people. She implored protestors to “read your history books.”