Protesters gather in Alice for Black Lives Matter
Regardless of the rain Monday afternoon, a protest in Alice went on in the hopes of spreading awareness of the national events that ended the death of a Black man in Minnesota at the hands of a white police officer.
The Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest started at 2 p.m. with four people and others joined the protest despite the rain. At the end of the two-hour protest, there was approximately 30 people standing and kneeling at the corner of East Main Street and Texas Boulevard.
Protesters were led by local woman Jacqueline Gutierrez, also known as Ella Kiddo on Facebook. Gutierrez decided to have a “gathering” in the hopes to educate people on the BLM movement. Gutierrez had been watching the national events that began after the death of George Floyd at the “knee” of Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.
Floyd was arrested and in the course of the arrest Officer Chauvin was videoed kneeing on Floyd's neck for approximately nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly stated “I can't breath.”
As part of the national events, Gutierrez and other protesters wanted to bring awareness to Alice. They held signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and they shouted the same slogan as well as the last words of Floyd’s life.
Protesters like Chucky Matthews and his wife, Bianca Cantu, heard about the protest on Facebook, but they were skeptical about joining the protest.
“We kept feeling the waters and when we saw that everyone was out here we took the initiative to come out here. I think it’s a real important event to show the community, and our kids, that it’s important and that our voices matter,” Cantu said. “If you want things to change, sometimes, you have to go out there. Not everybody’s going to agree with you, but you need to go out there and stand up for what you believe in. Change will, eventually, come.”
Matthews is a Black man who has been fortunate not to have dealt with officers who are rough, but he does feel that as a Black man he has been profiled and pulled over for no reason other than his race.
“I think we need to get rid of the bad cops. They know who the bad cops are. You can train them all you want that isn’t going to help any. Bad cops, if they are going to do something bad, they are going to do it,” Matthews said. “It don’t matter how much training or how many classes you send them to, bad cops are going to be bad cops. I thank God I haven’t had one like (Floyd) with all the roughness and stuff, but I have been pulled over for nothing. They’ll come up and say ’This is a regular stop’ but they can’t tell me why they pulled me over...But I comply with cops to get it over with. Once a cop asked me ’Why I was scared’ and I told him ’Cause you’re a cop and I’m a Black guy and you have a gun.’”
As the protesters chanted, kneeled and shouted the names of every Black person who has died across the nation at the hands of police there were many other individuals watching the protest unfold from parking lots nearby.
Alice residents Rosie Buitron and her daughter, Mari Perez, parked across the street from the protesters to watch after learning about the event on Facebook.
“It’s a shame what happened to (Floyd) and I really don’t see any big problem (in Alice) with our police force. I don’t really understand what’s happening as far as the protest. What’s going to be the outcome,” Buitron said. “Back in the 60’s, yes, there was racism against Blacks. I have very close friends that are Black. I’ve always grown up with them as being equal regardless of what happened.”
Perez agreed with her mother, but they were curious to see what was going on. She understood that Gutierrez was “expressing how she feels” about the national events that prompted the protest.
“I think what (Gutierrez is) doing is a good idea. She’s expressing how she feels. I don’t think that’s wrong. I just feel that here in Alice it’s hard because there’s so many different people. I hope she accomplishments what she wants and spread the awareness...,” Perez said.
Buitron and Perez don’t condone what happened to Floyd and other Black individuals, but they also think that defunding law enforcement is not the answer.
“We need the police. They are the ones who put their lives out there on fire for all of us to be safe. If we start (defunding police) we aren’t going to have anyone to back us up,” Perez said.
Once the protest was over attendees gathered for a prayer and departed the area with the hopes that they made a difference.
“I want the message to be that we’re all created equally. We are all created in God’s eyes and we should love one another for who we are individually and it shouldn’t matter whether we’re orange, green, black or brown,” Cantu said.
A message that Gutierrez supported as she wanted everyone to remember everyone should be treated the same despite the color of their skin.