• August 12, 2020

Black Lives Matter protest takes place in Downtown Odessa - Odessa American: News

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Black Lives Matter protest takes place in Downtown Odessa

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Posted: Sunday, May 31, 2020 11:30 pm

Editors Note: Duncan Lemp may have been used as an alias by an armed bystander during the protest.

More than 200 people marched in a Black Lives Matter protest Sunday in response to the death of George Floyd, who was killed on Monday by a former officer of the Minneapolis Police Department.

At 6p.m. protesters gathered in the parking lot of the Bank of America Building on Grant Avenue in Odessa which OPD had blocked off so protesters could march back and forth from the bank to the Odessa Police Department.

A group identified as March for Change Odessa took to twitter announcing that there would be a protest on Sunday.

OPD blocked Grant Ave. from 8th Street down to 2nd Street to allow the demonstrators to protest safely.

Protesters walked up and down Grant for the better part of three hours chanting “Black Lives Matter,” “George Floyd”, “No justice, no peace,” among others.

Renee Morris said the demonstration was productive and the community came together on one accord.

“There were multiple races out here standing for one cause, that we all matter. Black lives do matter, all lives matter, but what the world needs to know is that black lives matter. The tragedy that happened to that young man and his family,” she said, “It let the world know that law enforcement needs to be held accountable. You can’t murder somebody and just walk away because of a badge. That’s what’s the most horrific thought. He was helpless. So it hurts my heart for his family, but maybe it sparked something in law enforcement across the world.”

Demonstrators started their march to the OPD headquarters and some protestors took a knee facing the front entrance of the building as a demonstration. The group hung around the area for several minutes before marching back towards the Bank of America building. The protest took a route to city hall before returning to the police station a second time. 

People in vehicles driving down 8th Street honked and raised their fists as protesters gathered with their signs held high.

Along with onlookers on the sidewalk was a group of armed men.

Duncan Lemp, 27, held an AR-15 style weapon and said that he was attending the march to make sure everything went “smoothly.”

“When we found out about the protest, we formed a group and decided to come help the protest,” he said.

Black Lives Matter protesters, who at first thought the armed men were opposition to the march, shook hands with members of the armed group who said they were there to help keep the peace.

While major cities around the country have responded to the killing of George Floyd in different ways, some in Odessa expressed their anger and some had smiles on their faces.

Tryann Stevenson, 30, smiled while marching to OPD.

“I have a smile on my face because everything is beautiful right now. I had my own reservations at the start, but to see how everybody has came together, all races. You just look at people. You wouldn’t even think some people would be here. It’s just amazing to see how people came together and completely blew my expectations out the water.”

Stevenson said, “Something like this is important in Texas because, to be honest with you, we’ve never seen anything like this. It’s good to see this. There were little kids marching. There was teenagers, 20s, 30s, 40s, every decade of age is out here.”

Stevenson spoke about the different emotions he’s gone through dealing with racism throughout his life and in the past months.

“There’s a lot of rage and frustration everyday, like, there’s tears in my eyes all the time, but people look at it as, ‘oh you’re being emotional, suck it up’, but it’s hard to see that when you’ve seen injustice to your race ever since you were a little child,” he said.

While the protest was peaceful, demonstrators were met with opposition at one point by a person driving down 8th Street giving the middle finger to demonstrators. Some protestors responded by crowding the vehicle, kicking it and throwing water bottles.

Older members of the protest had used themselves to shield the vehicle and urged the few who had surrounded it to settle down.

A smaller number of protestors walked back to OPD headquarters one final time before going their separate ways more than three hours after it began.

Jastin Taylor, 37, a Midland resident, said that he marched because of the police brutality that has happened over the past few months.

“This is about people of all races and colors coming together to say look, ‘Something has to change’. This has been going on for too long. We are living in a world, a country that has had systemic racism for so long and its time for people to come together. It’s time for people to say enough is enough and we have to do that with our voices. We’re doing it with our actions with this protest and the hope is we will start doing this at the voting booths with our votes.”

Taylor, a professional wrestler, added, “I’m always wrestling opponents in the ring man, but this opponent right here, racism, that’s the biggest opponent I’ve ever faced.”

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