ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — Protesters and families alike joined the march from historic Gainesville to downtown Roanoke on Saturday, working to peacefully shed light on the reality the black community faces every day.
“We are laying on the ground and being brutally abused by police officers and other people just because they see us as violent, because of the color of our skin,” says 20-year-old Maria Wilson.
Maria says she fears for her brother daily.
“You never know what could happen when he’s out by himself because he’s a black male in this society,” Maria says.
Maria’s older sister — Deasha Manns — also shares her frustration.
“It shouldn’t matter about age, it should matter about this is the world we have to live in today,” says Deasha. “Do you want to live in a world where there’s hate towards a significant race.”
However, their teenage brother Ryan Wimbish says he knows, “If I ever encounter a police officer I know what to do to stay safe, and I’ll do as much as I can to try to stay safe. I’ll comply with everything they say, answer all of their questions, and keep my hands on the dashboard.”
WFXR News also spoke with the mother, Jacquelyn Jacobs, and she worries about what might happen to her family if following instructions isn’t enough.
“As a black mother with a young, 14-year-old African American son, I’m quite frightened,” says Jacobs. “When I see what happens to these other boys, these other men, he’s not prepared to handle himself.”
Unfortunately, Jacobs says racism has already come to her home, leaving her to explain to her six-year-old why an obscenity was written on their mailbox. Therefore, Jacobs says she had a talk with all of her children in order to prepare them for adulthood.
“You do not hate the police, you have to know sometimes things don’t go according to plan,” Jacobs says.
Now a student at UVA, Jacobs’ oldest daughter — Olivia Wimbush — refuses to be silent.
“At a school like UVA after everything that’s speaking out, and there are a lot of great things that are happening, you can’t ignore the things that are not happening,” Olivia says.
“I don’t think it will ever stop honestly,” Ryan says. “It’ll get better, but I don’t think it will ever stop.”
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