The demonstrations against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis migrated toward the suburbs Tuesday with peaceful crowds lining Roland Avenue in North Baltimore, marching in Columbia and kneeling in Annapolis.
The hundreds of people who lined Roland Avenue and Northern Parkway fell quiet shortly before 5:30 p.m. to take a knee for nine minutes. That’s about the amount of time that Minnesota Police Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the neck of Floyd before his death last week.
The demonstrators blocked the intersection, and as their silence ended they took up chants of “No justice, no peace!" and “Black Lives Matter!”
Heather Wade said her 10-year-old son Zachary organized the protest with help from his dad.
“He’s just an empathetic kid who asked what he could do to help,” Wade said.
The family sent emails to the Gilman School and Friends School and the plans spread. Debbie Levitt said one of her daughters found a post online about the protest. The Pikesville woman said she had an epiphany about her own “life of privilege.”
“Hearing black people talk about their experiences about what happens when they jog alone or are in a store was horrifying,” she said. “These are things I didn’t realize as a white woman.”
Levitt, 51, said she felt guilty, but knew she needed to be an ally and learn about their experiences. She started talking with her daughters more about racial inequality.
The demonstrations came after a series of marches filled downtown Baltimore Monday with thousands of people, shutting down the streets, City Hall and the highway. Tuesday night, a smaller crowd of about 100 demonstrators gathered outside of City Hall, at times mingling with officers. The scene was calm.
In cities across the U.S., protesters have taken over the streets to voice their outrage and frustration at seeing yet another black man die at the hands of white police officers.
The Minneapolis police officer has been fired and charged with murder, while three other officers working with him while Floyd was killed have been fired.
Tuesday afternoon, a crowd marched from The Mall in Columbia and held a vigil to honor Floyd. Shanelle Harrison, of Howard County, with with a sign that asked "Where is the vaccine for racism?”
“You have people protesting for their lives. I don’t think we should have to protest for our lives," she said.
A Wilde Lake High School and Morgan State University graduate, Harrison also attended a tense protest in Baltimore on Saturday night. She said it’s crucial for the protests to trickle outside the cities. She’s frustrated, however, that this is one of the first in Howard County. The town of Columbia was famously founded on principles of equality and diversity.
Harrison said her neighbors have turned out for causes around their schools but not social justice.
“The only time [Howard County residents] organized a protest [like this] was when the redistricting protest happened,” she said.
Anne Arundel County Police escorted the more than 300 people who met at the library in Crofton and marched to the community police station.
In Annapolis, about 250 people knelt on the intersection of Chinquapin Round Road and Forest Drive in silence. They marched around City Dock before taking to the State House and then City Hall, where the protesters demanded the appearance of Police Chief Ed Jackson.
“We are not against policing at all. We just want fair policing,” said Alderman DaJuan Gray, who helped organize the demonstration.
Gay recognized that Annapolis does not make headlines for incidents of police brutality as other cities do, but that could and would not be the only driving force behind a protest in the state’s capital.
“It’s just critical that we stand in solidarity with the rest of the nation,” he said.
Ahead of their protest, Annapolis Mayor Gavin Buckley said the police chief would announcing a citizen review board later this week.
“Our police chief supports this movement 100%," Buckley said. "Whatever tools we can use to get justice matters.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Tim Prudente contributed to this article.