Despite the cold and drizzly weather Saturday, several people gathered in front of the Minden Civic Center to show their support for the families of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
The Minden branch of the NAACP hosted a “justice” rally in support of the families as well as other black men who have lost their lives at the hands of law enforcement.
Members from the state branch of the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People and other chapters were in attendance, some from as far away as Hammond and Alexandria.
The Rev. Kenneth Wallace, president of the Minden chapter, said the rally was about speaking out against the injustice he and others feel is prevalent between law enforcement and the black community.
Beginning in Ferguson, Missouri with the death of Michael Brown, these types of “injustices” have been taking place far longer, he said.
“Here we are in 2015 and the same thing is still occurring,” he said to a crowd of roughly 30 people.
Windy Calahan, president of the Jackson Parish branch, said “Black lives matter.” Men, women and children. All lives matter, she said.
And because police seem to “treat us differently,” speakers said education on interacting with police is very important. Be compliant and respectful. Respect the office, Omega Taylor said.
“On this occasion we gather to express and shed light on black lives do matter,” Calahan said. “Why is it that the very men who take an oath to serve and protect us are the very ones who are killing our black men? Why can’t they injure? Why can’t they just pull our black men aside?”
Edward Taylor, religious affairs chairman of the LA NAACP, reiterated what his wife said, telling participants it’s important to make sure all their affairs are in order, such as making sure their driver’s licenses, insurance and vehicle registration are current.
During the rally, Tony Brown, radio broadcast journalist in Alexandria, listed those in Louisiana that have been killed by police, a list of 24 men. He said the common denominator in these deaths is that not one officer was indicted in any of these deaths.
Several participants also gave testimony as well as told of the importance of the younger generation becoming a part of the NAACP, which was founded in 1909.
While it is important their voices be heard regarding injustice, it is also important to open dialogue between the community and police. Nadine Wallace, daughter of the Rev. Wallace, said she learned the importance of learning their culture and their history. Taylor, speaking to the younger participants in the rally, said it is they who will keep the fire going.
“Know your history,” she told them. Taylor, among several others there, lived through the Civil Rights Era, and they are growing old. So it is up to the next generations to keep the voice for justice alive, she said.
The rally, the first of many, according to Wallace, wrapped up with prayer.