Stephenville’s response to the death of George Floyd

Alexis Burkett

Multimedia Journalist

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black male died in Minneapolis, Minn. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes while Floyd was handcuffed and face-down in the street.

This act created an uproar as citizens across the country felt as though his death was uncalled for. Protests began in Minneapolis and quickly spread across the country impacting cities as large as New York and as small as Stephenville.

The death of Floyd was a tipping point in the Black Lives Matter movement as well as police brutality. Peaceful protests as well as riots occurred in efforts to spread the message of the unheard.

The Black Lives Matter movement is in full force as this situation persists.

Alex Jimenez, with help from Jeyton Freed, planned a protest in Stephenville. This was held on June 2, 2020, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The protest began at Jaycee Park with a march to the Tarleton State University Stadium and back.

Tarleton State University students and others from the community march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Photo Courtesy of Shady Kuster.

Jimenez stressed the importance of “peace, love and equality” as he advocated for the march on Facebook. He encouraged all attendees to take advantage of the opportunity given to them and mentioned they are simply protesting hate and racism.

“It shouldn’t be political, it’s just human decency. In a broader sense we were protesting racism, that shouldn’t be controversial,” Jimenez said. 

Brandon Kopp, Stephenville native and a senior at Tarleton said, “The protest in Stephenville barely scratched the surface of the issue at hand. The deeply rooted racism in our county will take generations to disappear. However, as a native to Stephenville, I couldn’t be more proud to see the steps taken in order to raise awareness in our community.”

When asked what inspired Jimenez to organize the protest, he said, “I was listening to music and I thought this needs to be done. After posting the idea on snapchat I received many responses. My major inspiration is my family, I have some black males in my family. They are young right now but who’s to say in 10 to 15 years it wouldn’t be them.”

Like numerous other Stephenville residents, Jimenez and Freed were anxious about the possible outcomes of the march.

“Before I was scared, I wasn’t scared of people coming from out of town, I was scared of the locals. In the aftershot I think it has been awesome, the people that didn’t want the protest can’t say anything about it, it went great. It got the message across,” Jimenez said.

Freed said, “I know everyone in town was worried about the businesses burning down, but we didn’t pass any businesses, trash trucks were blocking the street so nobody could plow through the road, it was executed perfectly.”

Kopp attended the event and said, “I took so much away from the event here in Stephenville. I learned that there are more than just a few supporters. Our county has the ability to change and show good faith among all races.”

Numerous citizens spoke at the event prior to the march. Jimenez, Dr. Reggie Hall, Lathes Towns, Nic Burleson and Savion Washington all offered insightful words prior to the march.

Jimenez said, “The reason for having speakers was so that they could share their stories, not only in their lives in general, but about specific incidents in Stephenville.”

Kopp said, “The protest was intended to be peaceful and it was. The stories told before the march laid out issues from members of our own community. The heartbreaking stories shed light that Stephenville, along with much of the United States, has deeply rooted issues involving racism.”

Jimenez said, “I could not have asked for a better turnout, it was successful from our standpoint, the police standpoint, everything.”

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