Denton residents joined the thousands of Americans protesting in light of George Floyd’s death during an encounter with a police officer in Minnesota with a resounding message: Change needs to happen now.
Protesters held signs for the Black Lives Matter movement and posters referencing Floyd’s death and Denton resident Darius “DJ” Tarver as they stood in front of the Denton Police Department in solidarity with the black community and against police brutality and racism.
Wise Lubanda, a student at the University of North Texas, doesn’t want Floyd to be another name among the many black people killed by police officers in the United States.
“There needs to be some sort of reform,” Lubanda said. “I want the good cops to speak up more without fear of losing their job.”
Denton resident Jasmine Wiley said the Black Lives Matter movement is about unity.
“It’s about respecting other people’s cultures and who they are and not being judged [and] racially profiled for skin they cannot take off,” Wiley said.
Denton police surveyed and closed off part of East Hickory Street Saturday evening as protesters stood together and listened as members of the community voiced their grievances and experiences as black people in the United States and questioned law enforcement’s methods when speaking with a black person.
Hands stayed at people’s sides as one Denton resident asked the crowd if they felt protected by their local law enforcement.
One woman spoke up and said she did as she gestured to herself — a white woman.
“I do… and I’m so sorry,” she said before stepping back into the crowd.
Law enforcement officials on social media have spoken out against former-officer Derek Chauvin, the officer who pressed his knee down on Floyd’s neck for several minutes. Denton Police Chief Frank Dixon said on Twitter Wednesday that support for law enforcement doesn’t have to mean blind support.
Dixon spoke Saturday to a crowd with some cheering his words about coming together and others urging him to address Tarver’s death.
“We’re not going to make any sustained change without working together,” Dixon said. “Stand up, let your voices be heard, go out and vote. It’s much bigger than just the police department.”
Kevin Tarver, a McKinney police chaplain, spoke about his son’s death in January. DJ Tarver was fatally shot by Denton police who were responding to disturbance calls on Jan. 21. Officers tasered DJ Tarver and later shot him.
Kevin Tarver and his son’s roommates have said he wasn’t the same after a vehicle crash one week prior to his death.
“If you are in a mental crisis and your officers are trained to deal with this type of situation, you should know that you give them distance,” Tarver said. “You should know that you don’t yell rapid commands. You should know that you don’t put the weapons right in their face.”
Denton resident Katina Butler spoke about “the talk” — a conversation black parents have with their children warning them that they cannot do certain things because law enforcement may not treat them the same as white children.
“When you see black people being oppressed, step in,” Butler said.