Hundreds march in Fairfield ‘to get our voices heard’ on police brutality

Photo of Josh LaBella

FAIRFIELD — Bringing together people of all ages, race and genders, Fairfield became the most recent town to see protesters gather and demonstrate over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee onto Floyd’s neck for more than 8 minutes.

Hundreds of people marched through the streets Tuesday for nearly 3 miles on a route from the Sherman Green to Old Town Hall. They chanted “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace.”

The protest came just over a week after the death of Floyd at the hands of police sparked demonstrations against police brutality in cities throughout the country. Some events have turned violent, with police and protesters clashing.

When the lines of protesters in Fairfield made it to Old Town Hall, they each took a knee and had a moment of silence for the deaths of black people at the hands of police.

The first person to speak was Alejandro Cruz, a Hartford resident, as the crowd formed a large circle on the green. Cruz said the movement was about love, and his mother had raised him to love all people.

“(Black Americans) are tired of getting beat down, and for what?” Cruz said. “We are just trying to get our voices heard.”

Cruz said he wanted to come to the demonstration because it was important to take action instead of simply “writing some stuff on Facebook.”

Over the next hour, many people came into the center of the circle to speak. They called for equality and justice, not just in the criminal justice system but in the other ways they said the country had left the black community behind, such as education.

Emma Powell, a Fairfield resident, said she organized the protest because she was frustrated with all the people who say they are against police brutality on social media but never take action in real life.

“They are against what’s happening,” she said. “They are against police brutality, but they don’t take a lot of action. Especially here, because a lot of people are white and from the upper middle class, myself included, and I just got tired of it.”

Powell said she was tired of people with privilege being comfortable with the status quo and not using their influence for the greater good. She said she was happy with the amount of people who showed up.

“This has honestly exceeded any and all of my expectations,” Powell said. “I was so blown away. At one point, we were at (Old Town Hall) and the circle opened up and people of all ages, race and genders got in and were talking about their experiences. It was so touching.”

Rudy Gonzales, a Bridgeport resident, said he went to the protest to show people that they can unite to advocate for black lives.

“There’s a lot going on in our country. That’s why we’re here today,” Gonzales said. “To bring everybody together. To show that we can stand united. My life matters. Black lives matter.”

Nadra Al-Hamwy said she was tired of seeing black people being killed by police on TV. She said protests are how they can voice their opinion, but she is not sure if it will be enough.

“People have been peacefully protesting for years,” she said. “We’ve seen it with (Martin Luther King Jr.). We’ve seen it with countless other people like (Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.). The fact that it keeps happening time and time again indicates that change is not being done.”

Monroe native Maggie Desruisseaux said it is important to show people that minorities can come together with white people, especially in a predominately white town like Fairfield, to talk about an important movement.

“(Connecticut) may not be having this problem as bad as it is in other places,” Desruisseaux said, “but I feel like it’s still important to show support all around the world.”

Ablie Sarri, a Frenchman studying in the U.S., said he does not want his mom to have to call him from France to tell him to stop going on bike rides because she fears for his life.

“I don’t want to have to live in fear when I leave my house,” Sarri said. “One day, when I have kids, I don’t want them to be fighting for the same cause I’m fighting for. This has been going on for too long.”

Sarri said he was almost devoid of hope, adding that he felt like he would be back protesting in 10 years.

“I’m, quote, ‘fed up,’ to be honest,” he said. “I don’t know how much I can do, but I know that I’m doing more than doing nothing.”