AMESBURY — More than 350 men, women and children gathered in Market Square on Tuesday afternoon for a boisterous, yet peaceful demonstration in support of Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter protests have sprung up across the country after George Floyd was killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers on May 25, one of whom, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder.
Andi Egmont said she worked with fellow Amesbury residents Bob Ingalls and Caitlin LeMay, as well as Newburyport resident Trish Boateng, to put together the rally and give local residents a chance to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The original idea was to do something for folks who weren’t going to (the protests) in Boston,” Egmont said. “But it has grown.”
People began gathering at the Market Square bullnose at roughly 4:30 p.m. and the rally was in full swing by 5 p.m.
“To see people coming out is so powerful,” Egmont said. “I’m thrilled to see the communities up here taking a stand. I think that people are starting to learn that there is a role as a white ally which has a title and actions that people can take. There is a way of supporting people of color, and more and more people are getting educated.”
Nicholas Golden of Haverhill, who attended the rally with all five members of his family, said he was there because “the American police system is racist and was founded to bring former slaves back to their slave owners hundreds of years ago.”
“Most Americans have been polled and show that they believe that the police need to be reformed,” Golden said. “We are out here peacefully and I think most Americans support that.”
Golden went on to call for a change in the state Legislature and “reigning in police unions.”
“People are being consistently violated with violence and murder in the streets, and it has to stop,” Golden said.
His father, Christopher Golden, wore a Jack Kirby “Black Panther” T-shirt and quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” Christopher Golden said.
Ingalls, the pastor of Seeds of Hope Mission Church in Amesbury, said he wanted everyone to know that life is a precious thing.
“Through justice, there is hope and through hope there is peace,” Ingalls said.
Passing cars and trucks honked their horns in support of the rally while a chant of “No justice!” rang out on the eastern side of Main Street and was returned with a call of “No peace!” on the western side. The rally did not include speakers.
“In a predominantly white community, it is unfair to ask any one person to speak on the behalf of an entire movement,” Egmont said. “So, we chose rather to mute the white voice and show our support.”
Although some recent protests, including the one Sunday in Boston, have been marred by violence, the rally in Amesbury presented no such problems, according to Police Chief William Scholtz.
Egmont said the rally has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/events/540088679997959/.
“We are not a Black Lives Matter chapter,” Egmont said.
“The Black Lives Matter organization is not involved in this. We are simply showing our support of their movement.”
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.