Chants of “Black Lives Matter” were heard again in downtown Raleigh and Durham on Friday evening, as people condemned police shootings of young men of color around the country.
The gatherings were small compared to those that coursed through Durham and Raleigh last May after the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
A few dozen came together outside the Executive Mansion in Raleigh, before marching through the streets of downtown.
“People are dying, and the governor needs to address it,” said Vicki Brent, an 18-year-old student at Millbrook High School.
In Durham, more than 100 gathered at the corner of Dillard and Mangum streets near the county courthouse.
Among them was Kaleb Graves, 23, a Baptist minister studying at Duke Divinity School, who said he came out because the country has a problem with systemic racism.
“People of color are disproportionately affected, and that is a sin,” Graves said.
The protests were prompted in part by two recent cases of white police officers fatally shooting young men of color: 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago and 20-year-old Daunte Wright in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. Durham marchers also called attention to the death of Jaida Peterson, a Black transgender woman who was found dead in a Charlotte hotel room April 4.
A Chicago police officer fired a single shot that killed Toledo in the early morning hours of March 29. The officer had responded to a report of gunfire and chased Toledo down an alley, yelling at him to stop and drop a handgun that prosecutors say he was carrying.
A video from the officer’s body camera released Thursday shows Toledo stopping, turning and raising his empty hands as the officer fired. Police say they found a gun a few feet away. Toledo was a seventh grader at Gary Elementary School.
Wright was killed by a single shot from one of three officers who had pulled him over for having an expired registration and something hanging from his rear-view mirror. The officers subsequently learned that Wright had an outstanding warrant for failing to appear in court.
After initially getting out of his car, Wright struggled with the officers and attempted to drive off. Officer Kimberly Ann Potter, a 26-year veteran of the police department, threatened to “tase” Wright with a stun gun but actually fired a single shot from her handgun.
Potter and the city police chief resigned two days later. The next day, Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter.
Dante Mobley, a student at Enloe High School, said he joined the Raleigh protest to demand justice.
“Justice is a living breathing Adam Toledo,” he said. “Justice is a living breathing Daunte Wright.”
Taking the bullhorn, Brent, the Millbrook student, told the Raleigh crowd that the goal of the protest, and others like it, was to fight white supremacy.
“This is not just a cop problem,” she said. “It’s an America problem.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.