Thousands gathered at the Alberta Legislature grounds Friday June 5, 2020.
The protest came in the wake of the death of George Floyd, following protests in cities across the world as people stood up to end systematic racism.
Morrel Wax with Black Lives Matter YEG was one of the organizers for the Friday night protest. “Our goal is to fight for equity and that’s across all systems that have historical trauma,” Wax said.
The event started at 6:30 p.m. and a crowd of roughly 15,000 people gathered to listen to the chosen guest speakers for the rally.
The crowds chanted “Black Lives Matter,” and “no justice, no peace,” along with the speakers throughout the protest. First aiders worked their way throughout the crowds offering water bottles and hand sanitizer to the masses.
Organizers urged the crowds to try and maintain social distancing, wear masks and to keep the protest peaceful.
“This is a peaceful protest!” Organizers wrote in a post on the BLM YEG Facebook page, “Please do not pay any attention to any negativity that might occur.”
Organizers and speakers for the event urged attendees to write their local city councils asking for accountability and to use funding for the police force for community services and other initiatives instead.
The protest ended around 8:30 p.m. where protesters proceeded to march down Jasper Ave. with signs chanting “Black Lives Matter” as cars driving by honked their horns in support.
Just before 11 p.m. the Edmonton Police Service took a knee with protesters for a moment of silence for George Floyd and others killed by police brutality.
The EPS says they are committed to making changes to reduce racism and systematic injustice in the community.
“We want to protect you, we want to hear you but we have to work together,” president of the Edmonton Police Association Sgt. Michael Elliot said. “We realize how much hurt and pain this has caused and knowing that we can understand and communicate with our community means everything to us.”
Organizers of the protest say that the protest was an important step in shining a spotlight on what needs to change in the community in order to move forward.