Updated June 26, 2020 - 9:17 pm
A peaceful protest encouraging further social activism and collaboration Friday evening drew a crowd of more than 100 to the parking lot outside the Sawyer Building near downtown Las Vegas.
“We deserve to live; Black People Matter Rally” began at about 5:30 p.m. in the shade in front of the state building located at 555 E. Washington Ave. Leading the rally, Minister Vance “Stretch” Sanders and former NAACP President Gene Collins spoke about the importance of uniting to create a revolution.
Annelise Friedman, 27, of the Las Vegas Valley’s Paradise area, said she’s attended a protest every night since May 29.
“I’m showing solidarity and fighting for change,” she said. “Racism is inherent until the system is changed.”
For many Las Vegas residents Friday night’s protest was one of dozens they’ve attended since the killing of George Floyd May 25 while the unarmed Black man was in police custody in Minneapolis. Since the protests began nationally, many of those involved in the death of Black Americans have been arrested, including the three men charged in the killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
Sanders said it was decided that Friday’s rally should not involve a march so that protesters could meet each other in a quieter space. Many felt safer because of the logistics.
Hana Gutierrez , 25, of northwest Las Vegas, said that she’s been to one protest prior to Friday night’s where Sanders spoke, but that she feels protests on the Strip are too dangerous.
“I’m afraid of being a Black woman and being arrested down there,” she said.
Sanders noted that the majority of protesters were not Black, and he asked that they start forming coalitions and boycotting businesses that don’t support the Black Lives Matter movement.
Collins said he remembered his early days of marching more than 50 years ago.
“At one time I was where you are,” Collins said. “50 years ago I gave my life to the movement.”
Elizabeth Becker, 38, of northwest Las Vegas said she’s been involved with Black Lives Matter chapters since 2015 and that after adopting her daughter she realized she couldn’t protect her from the racism she would face being Black.
“We have to take this movement and demand change,” she said. “White people have to stand up and say something.”