San Angelo residents join rest of nation in peaceful demonstration

Community members take to streets to declare Black Lives Matter

By Mbulelo Maqungo
On June 4, 2020

Photo by Mbulelo Maqungo:
C.J. Luckey is embraced by other attendees at the protest after his speech. Luckey is an artist and youth pastor for Freedom Fellowship Church located in downtown San Angelo.

Hundreds of San Angeleans marched on May 31 during a Black Lives Matter protest demanding social justice and equality. 

The crowd of citizens congregated downtown at the Bosque and moved down South Irving street towards city hall in numbers. With gloved hands and synerchronized “I can’t breathe” chants muffled only by protective masks, attendees aired their grievances while mourning the death of George Floyd. 

Floyd, a 46-year-old Minneapolis resident, died during a dispute with law enforcement on May 25 after being accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a market. As news from the incident spread across the country, video captured by local bystanders showed Derek Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes before he died. According to Minneapolis Police Department’s Internal Affairs, Chauvin has had 18 prior complaints filed against him, although it still remains unclear what the internal affairs complaints were filed for. The Minneapolis Police Department did not provide more details.

The San Angelo protest was similar to many others across the country, with a diverse crowd of over 300 people. Even though the majority of those in attendance were young, there were older protesters and entire families of multiple ethnicities sharing their fustrations. Around approximately 6:30 p.m. protesters had already made it to the steps of City Hall and began simultaneously laying face down for the same amount of time Floyd was pinned under Chauvin's knee before his death. 

“It was all super beautiful,” senior Hedie Chavez said as the protest dispersed. “I’ve never been to a protest before, so this was a big first for me.”

After the demonstration on San Angelo’s City Hall grounds, organizers of the march provided a microphone to allow protesters the opportunity to comment. C.J. Luckey, a Freedom Fellowship Church pastor, talked about his frustrations and experiences to applause from the crowd.

“I grew up in Dallas, Texas, and even played college basketball in Kansas City, but all throughout, I experienced my fair share of bigotry.” Luckey said. “The cruelty I witnessed in my past built a hatred for cops in my heart, but thanks to my faith in Jesus and his grace I was helped to heal past all that.”

 Luckey attributes much of his growth and understanding to the five years he has lived in West Texas. He said he was proud of the people of San Angelo and their willingness to share their beliefs.

“I really feel like the city responded in a great way,” Luckey said. “This unity is a blessing, it is a big issue at hand and many people are coming together to face it.”

Earlier that afternoon, San Angelo Police Chief Frank Carter released a statement via Facebook acknowledging law enforcement has employees who don't live up to the standards expected of them nationally.

“As officers we know we have bad employees in our profession, there are bad employees in all professions, it’s our job to recognize those employees and have them removed.” Carter said. “Good officers don’t condone bad behavior, in fact they become more infuriated than a citizen.”

Carter encouraged many of his fellow officers to take part in the demonstrations and commented on San Angelo’s role in current events.

“I ask that we all come together as one this evening like San Angelo has many times in the past and have a peaceful protest. Let our voice be heard for George Floyd and his family. Together we can change, together we can make San Angelo better.”

The demonstration lasted from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with no reports of vandalism, property damage or arrests associated event. Many members of student organizations like the African Students Association, ASU’s NAACP chapter and SGA were present at the protest.

“I heard about it from my coworkers who invited me to go,” senior Sydney Allison said. “I was a little anxious before we got there but I found comfort in really understanding my privileged position and the knowledge that what I was doing is right.”

Allison said she was happy with the outcome of the protest, but said it was difficult to see any tangible positive effects this soon.

“One positive change I hope to see is people understanding each other on both sides, even if I feel like one is a bit more justified than the other” Allison said. “Hopefully, people who didn’t understand that this isn’t really a political issue see that now. If I broke my arm, I wouldn’t expect my doctor to tell me all bones matter, they would address the bones that need focus.”

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