After a silent sea of students and community members laid on the paved sidewalk outside of Thomas Jefferson High School last Wednesday, the gravity began to set in of just how long eight minutes really is, protesters said.
Nearly 75 individuals gathered June 10 to peacefully protest the killing of George Floyd and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man from Minneapolis, was killed during an arrest when a white officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes on May 25. Floyd’s death has since been deemed a homicide.
Ali Saucedo, a 16-year-old junior at Thomas Jefferson, said she and her event co-organizers felt empowered to speak up against racial injustices and systemic racism that have gone on for too long.
“It was four black girls who organized this and we felt that we wanted change at our school,” she said, including herself for the planning team. “We know that every person’s voice matters, so we really wanted to show our support for the cause.”
The June 10 event was put together by sophomore Jasmin Mustefa, sophomore Kadist Nega, junior Ali Saucedo, junior Janei Johnson, and junior Fikre Nega.
“We are the future,” Saucedo said. “I think it’s important to prepare everyone so when they do become adults and have more power as far as voting and jobs, they can be educated and teach future generations that racism needs to end.”
Ali Saucedo was joined by her 13-year-old sister Lianna Saucedo, who led chants for the crowd such as “how many more people have to die before we see eye to eye?”
The protesters stood in near silence for several hours, interrupted only by powerful chants and encouraging honks from vehicles passing by.
At one point in the protest, all of the attendees laid on the ground for eight minutes. Some time later, protesters took a knee and lifted their hands in the area while shouting “hands up, don’t shoot.”
The sisters also had the support of their parents, Denisha Saucedo, 41, and Alfonso Saucedo, 41.
“It’s important for youth to understand they can make a difference,” said Denisha Saucedo, Ali and Lianna’s mother. “If we don’t support them in every idea they have and every passion they have, we’re just going to crush them.”
The younger generation knows right from wrong, even better than most adults, Denisha Saucedo added.
“We’re here to support their vision of what they want their future to be,” she said. “We’re living ours right now, and we really want theirs to be different.”
The protest is a show of unity, peace, love and justice for all, said the girls’ father, Alfonso Saucedo. During the eight-minute lay down, Alfonso Saucedo had his head resting in his hands, but his mind was spinning with thoughts, he said.
“It’s such a long time,” he said. “I kept thinking every second that went by, you cannot believe how long eight minutes is … I feel for George [Floyd].”