A peaceful march, a powerful message

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 6/14/20

There's something that Dyshell Palmer wishes everyone would do: watch the video of George Floyd's murder under the knee of former Milwaukee police officer Derek Chauvin."It's incredibly hard to …

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A peaceful march, a powerful message


There's something that Dyshell Palmer wishes everyone would do: watch the video of George Floyd's murder under the knee of former Milwaukee police officer Derek Chauvin.

"It's incredibly hard to watch," she said. "A lot of people can't bring themselves to watch it. But it's important to watch it, to appreciate the severity of what happened."

Ms. Palmer, a 2011 graduate of Mt. Hope High School moved to Bristol her freshman year; she's currently a resident of Warren. Bearing witness to Mr. Floyd's murder had a very powerful impact on her. "There's so much that we don't see, that's not caught on camera," she said. "This was, and it brought up completely different emotions that I've never felt before.

"I want to have kids some day and I don't want them to live in a world where that's okay," she said. "They should be able to live free, without fear."

"I felt like I needed to do something."

Making change, at home

An active twenty-something who enjoys basketball, biking and hiking when not working at a Providence security company, Ms. Palmer wanted to do something, to take a stand. But in the days right after the destruction in Providence, she knew she didn't want to get involved with something that might end in violence. "I wanted to have a peaceful protest," she said.

"This is my community, I'm comfortable here," she said of Bristol and Warren. She checked in with the police departments of the two towns and, with their support, she posted an announcement on Facebook, calling for a peaceful March on Saturday, June 6 at 10 a.m. Within a matter of hours, it took off.

"At first I wasn't sure how this would go," Ms. Palmer said. "But almost immediately, I was getting so many messages, from people I didn't know. There was so much love and support.

"There was no real negative feedback."

A march, a knee, and a powerful moment of silence

Saturday morning went off, virtually without a hitch, as a crowd of close to 1000 people gathered at Colt State Park, while many more stood out in their yards, in front of their homes, and down in Independence Park waiting to greet the marchers.

A few moments before 10:30, Ms. Palmer stood on a milk crate with a megaphone and addressed the crowd. "We've got to make our kids proud and set a good example for them," she said. "We're teaching hate, and what's that going to do? We have got to teach them love, and educate them. We have to have these conversations because we don't want our kids coming up to us and saying 'I want to be white because all my friends at school are white.' You guys have no idea how bad that hurts."

"We need to stand together and stick together. Please send love, that's all I can ask. I want my nephew to feel loved in this country.

"I want him to feel that he matters."

With that the crowd moved south on Hope Street, reaching Independence Park and taking a knee for a very powerful 8-minute, 46-second moment of silence — the amount of time Derek Chauvin maintained pressure on Mr. Floyd's neck.

Now what?

Looking back on Saturday, Ms. Palmer is really pleased with the way the event turned out. "It was super successful, everyone was really respectful of each other and kept it peaceful," she said.

But, as she said to the assembled crowd, it doesn't end with people disbursing late Saturday morning and getting on with their weekends.

"The real change doesn't end with the protest," she said. "That's where it begins."

"If we are going to nip racism in the bud, we need to continue to make change at home."

Dyshell Palmer

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