VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (WAVY/WFXR) – Demonstrators with the Black Lives Matter 757 group gathered at the Oceanfront Saturday to continue demanding for an end to police brutality and racial injustice.
This comes more than a month after protesters descended on the Oceanfront in the wake of George Floyd’s death. During that demonstration on May 31, Virginia Beach police deployed tear gas.
However, the demonstration on Saturday, July 4 was much more peaceful for everyone.
Japharii Jones, the founder of the group first had a gathering at Mount Trashmore earlier in the day where he invited people to come and have a chance to talk about the issues and cause for which they are rallying.
This is a continued response to the events we saw a couple of months ago involving George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Aubrey, to name a few.
Roderick Wilson and his son Roderick Wilson, Jr. used their vacation time in Virginia Beach Saturday to protest. Both say it is important to keep protesting, especially on the holiday.
“This is important because we already know what happened all those weeks ago with George Floyd. Just thought it would be nice to come to the protest to support the cause,” said Roderick Wilson, Jr.
“With the Fourth of July there is a lot of debate about that, should Black people celebrate the Fourth of July cause we were still enslaved. Independence didn’t mean for us. It’s meant for colonies to be independent from British rule,” said Roderick Wilson.
When the group gathered at the Oceanfront, they meet up at Rudee Inlet by 3rd Street on Atlantic Avenue. However, the group did not have an authorized permit from the city to demonstrate on the street.
The Virginia Beach Police Department made a barrier at 3rd Street instructing the protesters to move to the boardwalk. The group did stop and kneel in front or the barricade line made by police officers on bikes. Demonstrators asked police officers to kneel with them, but none of them budged.
In a peaceful manner, the protesters all moved onto the boardwalk where they walked north towards Neptune’s statue. While the group started off with around 50 to 75 people, that number nearly tripled as they walked on the boardwalk.
Many people cheered them on from hotel rooms and restaurants nearby. As the demonstrators made their way back to Rudee Inlet loop, the group grew to more than 250 people.
Along the way, the Virginia Beach Police Department followed along on bikes and on horses.
Jones says it was always his plan to keep the protest peaceful and he was glad it worked out without incident.
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