HARRISBURG, Pa. —
Sunday’s Unity Rally on the Capitol steps marks the second week of protests in Harrisburg. Protesters reported no sense of “protest fatigue,” but rather a continued resolve to end racial discrimination, particularly in the criminal justice system.
“We can’t bring justice to them all, but at least we can bring justice to the ones that are happening right now,” said 13-year-old Nakia Jones, who was attending the protest with her aunt and cousin.
The Unity Rally wasn’t Jones’ first protest. The middle schooler said she doesn’t want to feel judged anymore for her skin color and hairstyle. She has seen racial profiling happen to her own family, she said, including an incident in which a police officer stopped to question her dad while he was fishing.
“[The police officer’s] like, ‘What are you doing?’” Jones said. “So my dad holds up his hands and he says, ‘I have my ID. It’s in my back pocket. You can take it.’”
In order to highlight Jones’ experience—and many others’—hundreds marched from the Capitol complex to the Harrisburg Police Bureau, where they kneeled in silence to honor George Floyd.
Keith Bentz, HARRISBURG: “What I’m saying is you need to look to find ways to deescalate and not go for that gun or that taser the first time,” said Keith Bentz, a protester who held a sign that read, “Policing is not being attack. It’s being judged.”
Given several instances of violence erupting at rallies in Central Pennsylvania, some were hesitant to come out.
“I didn’t really want to come out. I mean, I wanted to but then again I didn’t want to because it kind of scares me,” said Gabrielle Jones, Nakia’s cousin. “I don’t want to be one of those people who ends up dead.”
Rally organizer Kevin Maxson of local advocacy group Voices for the Voiceless continued to urge peaceful protest.
Protesters said they would keep coming out until they start to see signs of real change.