Bricktown, We Can't Breathe Rally

Speaker addresses the rally, Saturday, June 6, 2020, during the We Can't Breathe Rally. (Reese Gorman / The Transcript)

OKLAHOMA CITY — Protesters showed out despite extreme heat for the “We Can’t Breathe” protest Saturday afternoon.

The Saturday protest was organized by 24-year-old Angelique Chandler, 25-year-old Seanell Harris and Alexandria Nicole. The event protested the killing of George Floyd, who was killed when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin held his knee to Floyd’s neck.

“With the current events of the world right now, I really felt the youth in the community really needed a chance to speak out, but also provide solutions,” Chandler said. “How to get everybody involved so we will be able to make a change so we can try to stop this from happening again.”

Gathering at Northeast Second Street and Walnut Avenue at 2 p.m. Saturday, protesters began the short trek to outside Harkins Theatres in Bricktown — chanting the final words of George Floyd as they went, “I can’t breathe … Let me breathe … Officer please … Let me breathe… Let me stand up … Cause I can’t breathe.” As they were approaching the theater, they began chanting, “Black lives matter.”

In front of the Bricktown 16 multiplex, the organizers had set up stations to allow protesters to register to vote.

“We’re trying to get as many people registered to vote today,” Chandler said. “We’re trying to get as many people informed and just to make a statement.”

The rally started with a moment of silence for everyone who has lost a life due to police brutality as well as a prayer.

The organizers invited a diverse lineup of speakers, from poets to Oklahoma City councilmembers.

“The majority of the plans — that I believe have been executed — have been poorly executed and partially executed,” one speaker said. “Then there is the other side we seem to forget and that side is called maintenance. Anytime you deal with any kind of maintenance, it requires repair. At the end of the day, that’s what America needs — we need a reset and we need to repair.”

Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice urged the protestors to get out and vote. She said the only way to make change is to vote and to speak up at city council meetings by voicing feelings and opinions.

Oklahoma City poet Idelis read poetry titled “Empty.”

Oklahoma City based poet, Idelis, reads her poem "Empty" in front of protestors. Saturday, June 6, 2020 (Reese Gorman / The Transcript)

There were many tears shed as speakers came to the mic and told personal stories of experiencing police brutality.

The chants that echoed in between speakers could be heard for miles as the protesters joined together in unison.

Despite the heat, the crowds continued to grow as the peaceful rally continued.

As one poster put it, “Air is free, so why doesn’t everyone have the right to breathe?”

Reese Gorman

rgorman@normantranscript.com

@reeseg_3

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