By Bianca Padró Ocasio
On Sunday afternoon, about a hundred people, including some families pushing babies in strollers, showed up at the Torch of Friendship in downtown Miami, just a few steps away from the Bayfront Marketplace stores that were looted Saturday night.
The demonstration was organized in part by Muslim organizations in South Florida, including the ICNA Council for Social Justice. Some protesters, who held up signs that read “Muslims 4 Floyd” and “Black Lives Matter,” were drawn to the demonstrations after seeing images of Saturday’s massive protests.
Jose Eduardo Vanegas Jr., 21, said he drove two hours on Sunday morning from Clewiston, Florida, a small town near Lake Okeechobee.
“I heard about yesterday,” said Vanegas, adding that he was joining today’s protests demanding justice for George Floyd. “Until we’re tired, until we’re dehydrated, we’re going to fight.“
“The same thing is happening in small towns,” Vanegas added. “I mean, in the city of course there’s a lot more people, but in the small towns, it happens a lot and that’s what people aren’t seeing.”
Representatives from a number of activist organizations, including the Dream Defenders, which advocates for ending prisons and policing, spoke in front of the growing crowd of protesters, demanding police accountability.
Mohammad Asad, board member of ICNA Council for Social Justice, said the organization was also part of Saturday’s protests before demonstrators clashed with police downtown.
“I don’t know what happened after everybody dispersed, I think some of the things went out of hand in some of the groups. That is sad,” said Asad.
He added that Muslim groups have felt targeted by police in their communities since the 9/11 terrorist attack in New York and feel compeled to protest against the suffering of black Americans.
“After 9/11 we did suffer … and realized what was going on. We need to stand up against whatever injustice with anybody,” Asad said. “This is not a one time thing we have to stand up and we need to stay on top of it.”
Activists also called for protesters to join a march to the American Airlines Arena from the Torch of Friendship once the protest’s program ended.
At the arena, hundreds of demonstrators gathered as activists read out the black persons killed in incidents of police brutality.
“We are here because we are angry, we are here because we are mourning,” one organizer said through a megaphone. “Keep in mind police are not our friends… So what we’re going to do is we’re going to march.”
“But keep it keel y’all, we don’t want anybody going to jail where COVID” is affecting prisoners, the speaker said.
Article Courtesy: Miami Herald
By Bianca Padró Ocasio