Among a series of marches across the U.S. to honor George Floyd, his hometown of Houston turned out in the thousands June 2.
“I know what it’s like to face injustice as a black man ... to see people of all ethnicities here, it really shows we’re making progress, but we do still have a long way to go,” said attendee Alonzo Perrin, a native of East St. Louis and eight-year resident of Houston.
Floyd grew up in Houston’s Third Ward and was killed in the custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. A video of his death, as well as news of the two high-profile deaths of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, both of whom were black, set off days of unrest throughout the U.S. beginning May 29.
Demonstrators came from Houston and beyond to honor Floyd’s life and protest his killing. Chants ranged from “I can’t breathe,” to “Say his name, George Floyd,” and variety of others decrying police brutality. Officials estimated 60,000 people participated in the march.
Houston resident Jamie O’Neal attended the the March with his fraternity brothers.
“This is something that has been going on for a long time,” O’Neal said. “Everybody is finally getting tired of it and everybody is finally standing up and doing something.”
Houston-area lawmakers pledged to implement or call for meaningful reforms around criminal justice and other matters.
"People elected to office or in positions of power, we are listening and it’s important for us to not only listen, but it’s important for us to do. I want you to know that you’re demonstrating, your protesting is not going on in vain. Certainly not here in the city of Houston," Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said.
Over the course of the afternoon, the protest remained peaceful, a goal organizers Bun B and Trae Tha Thruth urged at the beginning of the March.
“Donald Trump wants to say, “If they loot we shoot,” Trae Tha Truth said, “That shit ain’t going to happen in Houston, Texas.”
Speakers reminded demonstrators that the event was held to honor the family members and memory of Floyd.
“We are going to march in peace,” said U.S. Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee at the kick off of the march. “We are going to show not just the nation but the world what George Floyd was all about.”
March participant Phillip Grant said he was glad to see the majority of demonstrators wearing facial coverings with respect to the coronavirus pandemic.
"It really touched my heart because despite the pain that we're going through, we still know that we're in the middle of a pandemic and we're trying our best to do what's right for each other, but that's what Houston stands for—helping each other," Grant said.
Houston temperatures reached 90 degrees during the march, with humidity levels of 91%.
Demonstration participants Em and Rae handed out cold water bottles and snacks for free to demonstrators amid the heat.
“While we’re protesting out here we’re in the heat; it’s Texas, it’s 90 degrees outside,” Rae said. “We want to make sure everyone stays hydrated, eats something, so that we can stay healthy and continue protesting for as long as possible.”