NEWINGTON, Conn — Hundreds of people gathered in the center of Newington to demonstrate this Thursday afternoon.
The peaceful protest began at the center green before heading down Main street. They marched for about 40 minutes of the two-hour event.
Their route brought them back to the intersection of Main and Ceder Street.
Demonstrators laid down on their stomachs in the intersection chanting “I can’t breathe.”
Those were the same words said by George Floyd as officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes.
The protest began with people taking turns talking about their experiences with injustice and calls for change.
Camille Stewert drove up from Bridgeport. Having missed other protests in the state she wanted to make this one. Instead of giving a speech, she stood in the center of a circle formed on the green and expressed herself through a poem.
"From the color of my skin, to the texture of my hair, my black is beautiful," read Stewart. It cannot be denied. It cannot be contained, and I will define it. And so today I speak it out loud, abashedly and declared a new, my black is beautiful. To my brothers, to my daughters, to my sisters, my nieces, my cousins, my colleagues and my friends, I’m here to speak up for all of us when I say again my black is beautiful."
Others marched the long loop chanting "George Floyd", "black lives matter", "no justice, no piece", "hands up, don't shoot" and more. Their emotions were raw.
"I’m speaking from my people when I say we are upset, and we’re pissed off," said one protester.
"This whole damn country has had enough and we’re sick of it," said Nick Osen.
"We are grieving! We’ve been under oppression too long and it’s tiring," said Aniel Ken. "I really, really hope that there’s change this time because if there’s not I just don’t know what to say
From those emotions came talks of a brighter future. One in which the country stands united.
"We need to change right now. It starts with us it starts with all the people," said Cooper Johnson. "If everybody stands up everybody’s going to know it and we’re gonna make a change."
There was only one moment when things got a little heated. It came when the crowd asked two officers to take a knee with them.
One of the officer's did while the other chose not to. The crowd continued the chant until other officers stepped in to kneel with them.
Those officers then shared hugs with the crowd.
Demonstrators say that moment was important for them to see because it shows them that the officers of this community have their back.