“No justice, no peace” was the chant heard from about 70 protestors Thursday as they marched down Main Street in Princeton.
After more than 400 protests in all 50 states in less than two weeks, as well as demonstrations across the globe, in the wake of George Floyd’s death by police in Minneapolis, Princeton’s own group assembled for a peaceful gathering, advocating for social change and law enforcement reform.
Protesters carried signs with the names of blacks killed by violence in high-profile incidents — Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Floyd — citing them as victims of systemic racism in America.
“I’ve watched my brother get cheered on at football games and chased down by police cars,” Alisia Wilkerson, 28, of Princeton, told the Times-Leader.
Marching and chanting with the others, Wilkerson carried a sign quoting civil rights activist and singer Nina Simone: “I’ll tell you what freedom is to me — no fear.”
“I’ve definitely felt a bias when it came to being a person of color in this town,” Wilkerson said. “I’ve qualified for jobs I haven’t been able to obtain.”
Protest organizer Jeneen Riley, 42, of Princeton, said she was demonstrating on behalf of future generations.
“I have nieces and nephews growing up here. If I don’t stand up for them, nobody will,” Riley, a black resident, told a crowd before a man listening to her words hugged her.
“We love you all for your support, and all lives matter — but ours do, too,” she said to applause.
When asked for the outcome she sought from the gathering, protestor Juscina Cayce’s reply was direct: “Not being afraid of getting shot.”
“I want our families safe when they come out. And if anyone stops you, you don’t have to be afraid,” said Cayce, 56, of Princeton. She marched with her 5-year-old grandson, EJ McCuron.
But while the crowd was unified in cause, some differed in approach.
Jenny Franke, 58, of Princeton, clarified that she was not labeling herself a “protestor,” denouncing some of the less civil displays that have taken place across the country recently.
“I’m here as a peace demonstrator, not a protestor,” said Franke, who is white, as she marched with a friend.
“We just really need to find support for a peaceful resolution. That doesn’t mean that what hasn’t happened isn’t atrocious … on both sides, but more violence is not the answer.”