‘Unity Walk’ held in Groesbeck to protest prejudice, police brutality
A group of about 50 to 60 people protesting injustice against African Americans met at the Limestone County courthouse Saturday morning and held a “Unity Walk.”
The organizers were a group calling themselves the CORE, which stands for Council on Racial Equality. The group was formed last week after a racial incident took place at a Mexia restaurant. While that incident was resolved peacefully, the group planned Saturday’s event to show the public they were displeased with other situations they believe are unfair to African Americans.
Many of those present, as they waited for the march to begin, shared their thoughts on what they hoped to accomplish by being part of the march.
CORE vice president Tyrell Hobbs was one of the organizers of Saturday’s Unity Walk. He is both a Groesbeck police officer and a pastor at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church in Thornton. He said he wanted participants to come together “as a community, with everybody being on the same page.”
“No matter who you are or where you come from, we want the same rights across the board,” he said, “whether it’s job-getting, home loans or what have you. We want the same position as everybody else; we want the same fair chance that everybody gets.”
He said CORE wants to hold everyone accountable, not only in Limestone County but across the world.
Two Mexia teenagers attending the walk expressed their views of the dangers they feel are posed by police.
Andrea Rivera said she attended to spread awareness of what’s happening right now: “With all the police brutality, and abusing their power, and for justice for all those people who were murdered in the custody of the police.”
Her companion, Andreya Reyna, said she was there to protest for Black Lives Matter and “to spread the word, so people will know that it’s wrong what the police are doing,” which she described as “abusing their powers and being racist to black people and other people.”
She said she didn’t know of anything like that happening in Limestone County.
“But you never know what they could be hiding or covering up,” her friend Andrea interjected. “There is a blue wall of silence that police take oaths to, and basically they can’t report what the police are doing bad. Like if we were both police and one of us was doing something bad, we couldn’t report them. We would have to be silent about it and cover it up.”
Terrance Perkins, of Mexia, said he attended the march to stop racism.
“We want to get our point across that black people are tired of being mistreated,” he said. “We want to be treated equal like everyone else. It shouldn’t have to take this. People look at the color of our skin and treat it as a threat.”
Perkins said he knew of racism happening in Limestone County
“Say for example, a white man do a crime, he’s going to get less time, or he’s going to get maybe probation, but let a black man do that crime, he’s going to get 20 or 30 years in the penitentiary,” he said. “That’s going on right here in Limestone County; it’s been going on for years. They’ve got to fix stuff on the inside to help us on the outside. There are police that are prejudiced right here in Limestone County. We’ve done had enough.”
Shaneaqua Canada said she was at the Unity March for peace.
“I think it would help bring peace,” she said. “If you have a group of us, and when I say, ‘us,’ I mean everybody coming together for this movement; then maybe everybody else would bring peace and come together in unity.”
As for problems in Limestone County, Canada said she has mainly seen racial remarks on social media.
“Other than that,” she said, “I haven’t just had any real bad experience with racism; just maybe sometimes treated different. I would like for that to stop, because I think everybody deserves to be treated the same.”
Demeshia Brooks, of Mexia, said her goal was to shed light on the social injustices in Limestone County and around the world.
“We want to bring ‘the great divide’ together in union to make Limestone County better,” Brooks said. “We’re going to hold people accountable when there’s wrong-doing, and we’re going to do it all within the legal guidelines.”
She said economic injustice is also a problem in Limestone County, citing as an example that African Americans sometimes have problems obtaining business loans and home loans.
The march took off from the north side of the courthouse about 10:25 a.m., with some participants holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and other sayings. The marchers would occasionally chant, “No justice! No peace!”
The group marched from the courthouse east on State Street in the sunny heat and almost cloudless sky to Rawls, where they turned left, then proceeded to Navasota, turning left again and heading west.
With help from Groesbeck police officers, the group crossed Ellis, or Highway 14, then turned left again a block or two past 14 and made its way back to the courthouse.
The marchers then assembled on the north steps and listened to several speakers who encouraged them in different ways.
Woodie Anglin encouraged people to vote so their voices would be heard.
“Voting is the loudest voice we’ve got,” he said. “If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice.”
Verna Hobbs, who is the mother of event organizer Tyrell Hobbs, spoke on equality of jobs and how important it is for African Americans to stand up for the opportunity of the next generation. Finally a man who goes by the pseudonym A.D. Shakur spoke, saying African Americans have been wronged and oppressed throughout history.
He encouraged those present to support black-owned businesses to help African Americans financially.
“Instead of asking others for help, we’re in a time where we can help ourselves,” he said, also encouraging the younger people to share information and have discussions on social media, “because that’s where the fight is at right now.
“It’s been shown throughout history that America only listens to two things: violence and money,” Shakur said. “If you become violent, they listen. We don’t have to do that down here; we don’t have to go around tearing things up; that’s already been done. But we have to follow up that action with our reaction, and that’s by keeping our money circulating in the black community.”
After Shakur finished speaking, Sheriff-elect Murray Agnew and his wife, Brandy, along with Patrol Capt. Lee Cox, who had been listening to the speakers, brought forth a cooler filled with bottled water and offered it to anyone who needed water in the heat.
Agnew introduced himself and said he supported peaceful protests, and invited anyone who needed his help to contact him.
“We’re here to try and start talking,” he told the group. “To me, dialogue solves a lot of issues before they ever get started. So, please feel free to call, contact me.”
After that, Tyrell Hobbs closed the event with a prayer.