TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Black Lives of ETX organized a women’s march and rally that was held on the square in downtown Tyler Saturday evening to push for racial justice and remember black women who were killed by police officers.
A flyer for the event said “Hope for change, love for each other, courage to fist up, and fight back against injustice.”
The event featured several speakers.
Mission Bonner, one of the event’s organizers said they planned a peaceful march and rally.
“We’re going to take over the streets to demand justice,” Bonner said. “The truth is our justice has not been rightfully ours. We’ve been going through this for centuries. Now, it’s 2020, and we’re still here.”
Bonner said that a diverse group of women was going to follow the women with Black Lives of ETX. She added the men in their lives would be marching alongside them to show their support.
“Our voices, I believe, are powerful,” Bonner said. “I believe if we fist up and fight for our rights, we can make healthier changes in our community.”
Bonner added that in addition to standing up for racial justice, they planned to remember black women like Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Atatiana Jefferson, and Tanisha Anderson who were killed by police.
The flyer for the event urged participants to be cautious about COVID-19 by social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing.
“I think we’re seeing the brunt of force in so many ways that black women pay the price for systemic racism in the United States,” said Julie Gobble, one of the organizers of the march.
Speakers at the event read stories of lives the event was held to honor.
“We want to honor Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Tanisha Anderson, and Sandra Bland because they were powerful black women who did nothing wrong,” said Bonner. “Law-abiding citizens who were only trying to live.”
Protesters marched for change in their own community.
“To all my ladies, all my sisters, all my queens; thank you for getting in this fight. Thank you for understanding that none of us have the privilege to sit this out or turn a blind eye,” said Ambra Phillips, a speaker at the event. “Thank you for understanding we are stronger together.”
Organizers said the March is the start of serious change they want to see locally in health care, equity, and all aspects of life.
“We have the highest infant mortality rate in the state and it disproportionately effects black women, we have the second highest maternal mortality rate and it disproportionately effects black women,” said Gobble. “We have the highest suicide rate in the state and it disproportionately effects black women and men.”
The organizers said they wanted a peaceful protest but tensions were high after last weekend’s protests on the square, so armed black men announced they were there for protection.
“This is not about a race war, this is not about violence, or anything like that,” said Bonner. “We just want peace, we want equality, we want to have equal rights too and we want everybody together, in one accord.”
The march even garnered attention from the Next Generation Action Network, a group from Dallas who came to the march to show their support to smaller cities trying to make change.