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Tallahassee Black Lives Matter Activists Say They Want George Floyd Demonstrations To Encourage Young People To Vote

A crowd of people holds up candles.
Lynn Hatter
On Wednesday evening, Tallahassee residents gathered at the amphitheater in Cascades Park for a candlelight vigil to remember George Floyd.

On Wednesday, a helicopter buzzed over Cascades park, and law enforcement officers lined the streets. Hundreds of people marched from the Capitol to the park chanting "no justice, no peace," and calling names that have become too familiar: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor—two of a long list of people killed by law enforcement.

Earlier in the day, faith leaders gathered on the Historic Capitol steps to host a prayer vigil to remember those who've died.

"George Floyd while at the grocery store. Tamir Rice while playing at the park. Eric Garner, after breaking up a fight he ended up saying, I can't breathe," Reverend Patricia Harrison says.

She called out the names of black people who have been killed by police.

"Some making national headlines and some will never ever be known, but it happened, and as we ring the bell, we stand in sincerity and in solitude for a better today for them, those, and these," Harrison says.

Tallahassee Black Lives Matter Demonstrations 06/03/2020

One of the event's speakers rang the bell once for each name read, and then three more times for those who have died but whose names might not be known.

"I would like for all of us to bow down and kneel for the eight minutes and 46 seconds for George Floyd and for all of the others who have perished," Reverend Don Tolliver says.

George Floyd died in Minneapolis while an officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Tolliver urged protestors to use their voice at the ballot box in the upcoming general election. He says if an elected official is doing something wrong, they should be voted out.

"We need to collectively vote together, each and every person who's able—have breath in their body make it to the poll. If you have to go early, get your ballot in the mail, whatever it takes. Justice shall and will be served," Tolliver says.

Back at Cascades Park, activists prepare for the evening's vigil. Protesters march from the Capitol as organizers of the peace walk tape pictures of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, and others to the amphitheater stage. Someone burns sage, waving it around to clear the air. Others unbundle flowers and place them by the pictures. The helicopter circles above.

Three women stand together. They hold a sign that reads, "My Life Matters."
Robbie Gaffney
Rosetta Rolle Hylton-Anderson (right) stands with her friends as they wait for the candlelight vigil to start.

Rosetta Rolle Hylton-Anderson is sitting with her two friends in the front row. She represents the Gadsden County Democratic Women's Association. Hylton-Anderson says she's been a part of the civil rights movement since she was 16.

"I marched and worked with Dr. King in Atlanta, so the civil rights movement is something I've been involved in all of my life," Hylton-Anderso says.

Hylton-Anderson says she's seen a lot of demonstrations before, but this time, she says, feels different.

"For some reason, I think that this time something is going to be different, and the way it can be different is if we elect the right leader because the present leader nothing's going to change in the next months," Hylton-Anderson says.

Hylton-Anderson hopes recent demonstrations will lead more young people to vote during the upcoming general election.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.