They were young. They were older. They were from all walks of life who came out by the thousands crossing invisible lines constructed throughout time hoping to form and build long lasting alliances with each other so what happened in Minneapolis will never occur in Bucks County with a Unified Peace Walk, Saturday.
The power of thousands filling the streets of Bristol Borough Saturday and elsewhere for peaceful marchscould not be denied.
Coverage of protests locally and nationally wiped COVID-19 stories out of the news cycle and public consciousness.
The demonstration that snaked through borough streets culminating at the Harriet Tubman Statute in Bristol Lions Park was for many a cathartic release.
For others it was a time for remembrance, grief, and looking to better days ahead for race relations in the lower end of Bucks County.
“This is beautiful. An eye opener. We just wanted to make an environment for people to feel uncomfortable to be comfortable” organizer David Sleets said of the event.
“Lets just keep going. Keep moving forward because there is light at the end of this tunnel and today’s response is proof of that.”
The march which started at the Bristol Regional Rail Tran Station a little after 11 a.m. stopped on Buckley Street as names were read of those killed by law enforcement followed by chants of “Say their name!”
Residents along the processional path set up water stations and tents to distribute liquid relief as temperatures approached the high 80’s. The sun’s heat bathed walkers singing Sister Sledges “We are Family” along rally path on Bath Street as it made its way into the boroughs merchant district.
Bucks County Commissioner Vice Chair Bob Harvie who was among many of the locally elected officials to attend said it was a great day for all involved. Bristol has reason to be proud of its self today, he said.
Fears stoked throughout the week were put out to pasture as no major incidents of any kind were reported by police as their welcomed presence kept the potential for agitators in line.
Dani Repo of Falls Township who throughout the week took it upon herself to highlight what she called racist posts on social media about protests past and present said it was the most peaceful and loving event she had ever been to.
“Look at all this love and support” she said from everyone here as we walked through the Mill Street Parking lot with her full family walking just ahead.
Law enforcement agencies from throughout Lower Bucks County were on hand to assist with units from Tullytown, Middletown, Bensalem, Bristol and Falls Police Departments from one end of the march route to the end.
We thank the community, demonstrators and emergency personnel for their efforts in keeping the event safe and peaceful, said officials from the Borough Police Department.
Personnel from the The Bucks County Rescue Squad provided medical backup as they slowly followed behind marchers.
The walk planned by organizers and officials from the Bristol area in response to the murder of George Floyd Minneapolis by Police Officer Derek Chauvin. He and three other officers have been charged with Floyd’s death on Memorial Day.
A video of the alarming incident showing Chauvin leaning on the neck of Floyd with his knee went viral earlier this week.
Erica Waller-Hill who operates the educational non-profit Destined for a Dream said this is the first step in a process that needs to take place with local officials just before taking a knee for eight seconds to honor the murdered man.
“Now we need consistency as we move forward in addressing racial inequalities. This is just a first step in the process.”
Louise Davis a decedent of Harriet Tubman said she was thrilled with the turn out prior to reading a poem to attendees.
The event ended officially shortly after demonstrators took a a knee to reflect on Floyd’s death.
A trio of 19 year-old girls making their way home to Bristol Township on Buckley St. explained why it was important to be part of Saturday’s march.
“To really get a message across to stop police brutality… and that our lives matter too.”