Hundreds of people gathered in Kalamazoo's Bronson Park Saturday, July 11, for a Black Lives Matter rally and march. The event featured two close friends of George Floyd.
A video of the arrest and death of the black Minneapolis man at the hands of a white police officer in May sparked a national outcry against police violence directed at minorities.
Featured at the rally were former NBA player Stephen Jackson and Milton “Poe Boy” Carney. Both knew knew Floyd from childhood and have spoken in a number of communities following his death.
Jackson told the crowd in Kalamazoo that as the Black Lives Matter movement has received more attention, it's time to press for changes in policies and laws that treat people equally.
“When Floyd was first murdered, what they didn’t know is that he had a brother in the NBA that has one of the biggest Podcasts in the world," Jackson said, "And that he was going to use his voice in the right way. They thought it was just going to be another murder they swept under the rug. But it's a new day.”
Carney said change starts by getting everyone out to vote.
Also on stage were several local speakers, elected officials, and middle school students.
Most people in the crowd were wearing masks and many observed social distancing guidelines. The organizers of the rally made face masks, hand sanitizer, and bottled water available for the participants.
Some streets in downtown Kalamazoo were blocked off to accommodate the march but there was no visible police presence at the rally.