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Second Black Lives Matter protest scheduled for Friday evening

By LIZ HARDAWAY

STAFF WRITER

PUNTA GORDA — If you missed last week’s Black Lives Matter protest, don’t worry, you have another opportunity.

March for Justice Charlotte is hosting a second Black Lives Matter march from 6 to 8 p.m. tonight at Laishley Park, 100 Nesbit St. in Punta Gorda.

“We are hoping to see consistency,” said one of the event’s organizers, Carson McNamara. “This time we’re planning to have a community dialogue about policy and specific improvements we can implement into our local law enforcement.”

This second protest will have a lineup of speakers, opportunities to register to vote, a remembrance period for all victims of police brutality and an open mic session for residents to share their experiences and perspectives to the crowd.

But these protests aren’t just to gather people, they’re to make meaningful change.

“I hope that not only we see change on a legislative platform such as with the CCSO (Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office) now adopting body cameras but also I hope we see change in a communal way,” McNamara said. “These events are meant to unite each of us under the need for positive reform in Charlotte county and we hope people take these events as a safe space to be heard and feel seen.”

The speakers scheduled to speak June 12 include: James Abraham, a former writer and editor who hosts a weekly lecture series.

D’Andre Lewis, a Charlotte County native and Port Charlotte High School alum who will graduate from Stenson University this spring.

SEE PROTEST, 4B

“I’m seeing the beginning of a movement that will never end,” said Scott Joseph with his son 2-year-old Richard Joseph. “It sucks that it had to happen this way to show justice.”

SUN PHOTO BY JERRY BEARD

FROM PAGE 1B

Alissa Perry, a paraprofessional at Port Charlotte High School who was ordered to take down a Black History Month display last year of NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick.

Organizers are also figuring out if a few more people can speak, but they were not officially scheduled as of Thursday morning.

Despite the inclement weather, the first protest Friday had a higher- than-expected turnout with between 800 and 1,000 people in attendance, according to Punta Gorda Police Department spokesperson Lt. Dylan Renz.

“I’ve never seen it at such a large scale,” McNamara said before she spoke at the protest last week.

Punta Gorda Police Chief Pamella Davis will be attending the protest Friday, according to Renz. It is undetermined at this time if Charlotte County Sheriff Bill Prummell will attend this week’s protest, spokesperson Claudette Bennett told the Sun. Both attended last week’s protest.

Organizers have been in contact with the Punta Gorda Police Department, the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office and the Punta Gorda city manager about Friday’s event, according to McNamara, and they have not received threats this time around.

The route will also be a little longer than the previous week’s, venturing down Nesbit Street to Marion Avenue, then looping through the city hall parking lot to West Retta Esplanade and back to Laishley Park.

Organizers are asking protesters to bring their own masks and posters, but some will be provided.

March for Justice Charlotte is also hoping to hold a town hall with local officials, law enforcement, community members and leaders within the next two weeks, and encourages residents to stay updated on their Facebook page at https:// bit.ly/37k4FFn. Email: liz.hardaway@yoursun.com

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