Protesters marched through several blocks of Columbia on Saturday to bring attention to systemic racism and police brutality.
Over 50 people attended a peaceful protest in Makle Park on Saturday as a "call to action to support the BLM movement, to educate on systemic racism and police brutality, to unite the community" according to the group's online flyer. The protest, organized by Justin D. Walton, Elijah Lowe, and others, included testimonials and readings by participants at Makle Park, and a police-escorted march through several blocks of Columbia. Participants in Saturday's protest also chanted the names of black people killed by police, such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Elijah McClain. Such protests have continued nationwide since the murder of Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May.
Columbia School Director Robert Misciagna, who attended the protest, said on his Facebook page, "Demonstrations like the ones we see today expedite change." He also noted the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle."
At the rally, Columbia resident Shelley Frederick noted that the local police department still has not released its use-of-force policy. She urged residents to speak out at the upcoming borough council meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, at borough hall, 308 Locust Street.
In today's edition, Columbia news, views & reviews noted the importance of making use-of-force policies public:
These policies are important for citizens of communities to know about and know. “Police should have the skills and cultural competence to protect and serve our communities without killing people – just as police do in England, Germany, Japan and other developed countries.”On a side note, Mayor Leo Lutz said at a past council meeting that the borough does not use its drone to watch citizens, like an "eye in the sky." However, during Saturday's gathering, a drone hovered continuously over the park, apparently surveilling the proceedings.
Columbia’s Police Department’s use of force policy, at this time, has not been shared with its citizens.