Protesters in Copperas Cove join others across the nation against racism, discrimination
By BRITTANY FHOLER
A Copperas Cove woman said she couldn’t just sit back and not respond after seeing the video of 46-year-old George Floyd, who died while in the restraint of Minneapolis police officers.
Floyd, an African-American man, died Monday, May 25, after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck, while two other officers knelt on other parts of his body and a fourth officer stood by, for nearly nine minutes, all of which recorded on video by bystanders. Floyd was handcuffed at the time. In the video, Floyd can be heard saying he can’t breathe.
Christine McDaniel is white but said she couldn’t just sit back. On Saturday, McDaniel made a sign asking for drivers to honk against racism, police brutality, justified murder by police and people of color (POC) living in fear, with #GeorgeFloyd written on top.
McDaniel sat in a chair on the sidewalk on Nauert Street, facing Business 190, starting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. She stayed there until dusk.
On seeing the video of Floyd’s arrest and death, McDaniel said she had no words at first. She added that she thought the officers’ actions were disgusting.
“I’m bringing community awareness because everything starts with our community, and then it trickles down to the bigger outer regions,” McDaniel said. “Basically, I’m just tired of it. Nobody should have to live in fear. Nobody should have to be scared to walk down the street, going to a grocery store, pull over on the side of the road. I want awareness. I want people to known that it’s time for a change and racism needs to go. It needs to go, and if you want to change, then it starts with us, it starts with our community.”
McDaniel said when she first set up, she didn’t get many honks.
“I was scared. I was like, ‘Oh no. My community’s racist,’” McDaniel said.
Soon, her fears would be relieved as more people saw her sign and honked driving both east and westbound on Business 190.
Several people stopped to speak with McDaniel and expressed interest in joining her. Some people even purchased beverages for the protesters.
On Sunday, McDaniel was joined by more than a dozen others, with their own signs.
McDaniel said she especially cares about this issue because she has biracial children.
“I do it for them because it’s a dangerous world right now, and things are just going crazy and it’s just like everybody should be able to somewhat live in peace of mind,” McDaniel said. “You don’t have to like everybody, but you don’t have to be abusive.”
On Saturday, McDaniel said that members of Copperas Cove Police Department had stopped by her one-person protest on Saturday and asked about it. She explained what she was doing, and they supported her, she said.
McDaniel added that she thought Copperas Cove had “wonderful police”.
On Sunday, Stacy and Shilissa Drayton joined McDaniel’s protest with their dog, Sparkles. The couple held a sign that said “Prosecute Police Brutality”. The Draytons are African American and felt drawn to be at the protest.
“We want equality,” said Stacy. “We feel like everybody should be treated the same, regardless of their color, height, weight. I mean, you should be treated the same regardless and that’s not happening. You feel like the powers that be up top are not on the same page as we are.”
Stacy said that he felt that all four officers involved should be charged because they did not stop their fellow officer.
Stacy said there was a lot support for the protest Sunday and that it felt like everybody was on the same page.
“It’s just a disconnect between the people at our level and the higher-ups,” Stacy said. “I don’t have the power to get out here and make laws or to have these guys brought to justice, but what I can do is show my support and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
Sunday evening, it seemed like every other car driving by was honking in support, with some drivers offering a fist pump in solidarity from the road.
“I think it’s great, and like I said, we can come together without violence and voice our concerns and opinions,” Stacy said. “It especially shows how united we are in Copperas Cove. Like, I said, we’re not as big as Dallas or Houston but everybody sees the exact same thing, you know, what happened with Floyd was brutal. I mean, it should never take place.”
Shilissa added that she felt that everybody just wants change to happen. These protests are a sign that “enough is enough”, she said.
“Something has to change,” Shilissa said. “Something has to be done, and if you can start by holding people accountable for what they do, because at our level, we’re held accountable for what we do. There’s no reason why anybody should not be held accountable.”
Shilissa added that they weren’t grouping all police officers together.
“You know, we know it’s not all police,” Shilissa said. “It’s just a select few, just like there’s good people and bad people of all color.”
Stacy agreed. He also said that he didn’t think the issue was black people versus white people.
“A lot of people are trying to make this about black and white. I don’t feel that way,” Stacy said.
He said there was discrimination involved but it wasn’t just about race.
“The leader of this rally is actually white,” Stacy said. “It’s a matter of people being treated fairly regardless of your color.”.
After the video went viral, the four officers involved in Floyd’s death have been fired. As of May 31, Chauvin had been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Protests across the country began May 26, with the protest in Minneapolis ending in riot that burned down several businesses, including a Target store. The protests and riots continued, with the Minneapolis Police Department’s Third Precinct vandalized on May 27 and burned down by May 30, in addition to 170 other businesses in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Since then, protests and riots have spread to cities in other states, including Atlanta, Charlotte, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth and Austin. The majority of these gatherings have been reported as starting out as peaceful, with riots and clashes with law enforcement reported after dusk. Several cities and states have enacted curfews.
There have also been protests in cities in other countries, including in London, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Berlin, Copenhagen and Auckland.
Locally, there have also been protests in Killeen and Waco, which as of press time Monday had been reported as peaceful.