“We need our voices to be heard”: Peaceful protest to honor George Floyd to take place in Columbia

Protestors will march to the State House Saturday at 11 a.m.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — In the days after George Floyd passed away while getting arrested, Minneapolis has become center stage to protests calling for an end to police brutality.

After Reverend Al Sharpton issued a nationwide call-to-action, Lawrence Nathaniel started planning a march in the heart of Columbia, set to take place Saturday morning.

“I just want to see change in the community and I feel it’s just been a boiling point in America and we as a community need a place for our voices to be heard,” Nathaniel said.

These plans come as law enforcement leaders across the state condemn the actions of the four Minneapolis police officers Monday.

In a statement, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said:

This is sad beyond all measure to see law enforcement officers act as the four officers did in Minnesota. There is absolutely no place for that kind of behavior by or from any law enforcement officer. It is inexcusable. Only by working together can we prevent this from ever happening again.”

Nathaniel said the “I Can’t Breathe South Carolina” rally will also address concerns over coronavirus testing in African-American communities, saying everyone who takes part should wear a mask.

“Facemasks tell the actual mission of what’s going on: we can’t breathe,” Nathaniel said.

As of 6 p.m. Friday night, 405 people said on Facebook they plan on attending the gathering in Columbia, with 1,300 saying they’d be interested in attending.

Similar gatherings are set to take place in Orangeburg, Rock Hill, Greenville, and Charleston. Nathaniel says calling for change in the State Capital is big towards getting their message across.

“We don’t know what will happen tomorrow when we wake up, so our goal is to make sure our voices are heard where our city leaders can listen and say we want to put precautions in place to prevent this from happening to the next person,” Nathaniel said.

Nathaniel says organizers will provide gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer, and will try to encourage social distancing whenever possible.

The group will meet tomorrow at 11 a-m at City Hall then march up Main Street to the State House, where a series of speakers will address the crowd.

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