RISD Students March at Berkner Park


Leila Saidane

Berkner Park was silent for nearly nine minutes while each person in the crowd took a knee and held a fist in the air. Among family and friends, high school students from Richardson, Mckinney and Allen gathered to mourn the death of George Floyd, and demand change to the law enforcement system.

When 2019 Berkner graduates Autumn Ray, Bela Marcano and MacKenzie Mitchell saw how the nation responded to recent police brutality, they knew they had to do something.

“We saw what happened to George Floyd, and we were sickened by it,” Mitchell said. “It really hurt, and we decided we couldn’t just sit at our house and watch everybody else do something.”

Every state in the country has held a protest for George Floyd, and unlike some that turned violent, this one remained peaceful.

The protest started with an 8 minute and 46 second kneel, lasting as long as Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck.

Protesters marched around the park chanting “No justice, No peace!” and “Black Lives Matter,” as Richardson police kept watch. Mitchell emphasized to the crowd the importance of keeping the protest peaceful.

The protest grew larger than originally expected, after organizers made a poster and sent it to their contact list. The poster spread over social media through Instagram and Snapchat stories, making it an effective way to get the word out.

“We appreciate every single person that came out,” Mitchell said. “We can’t just stop it here and say that we went to a protest. We have to vote, we have to make our voices actually heard. We have to keep going, every single day, because we don’t stop being black. We’re black every single day.”

The crowd was full of RISD students, including Richardson High students and graduates. For many, the movement affected them personally.

“I’m here today because of all the lives that have been lost,” senior Tsion Emeru said. “Because of the same hate my parents got, the racism they experienced coming from a different country. I finally wanna see change. There’s so many people in the United States who feel like they don’t have a voice, and I feel we can give them one by being here.”

Others acknowledged their privilege and showed support for the people of color affected by police brutality. RHS graduate Emma Phillips held a sign in the march that said “Black lives > White feelings.”

“The protest today is important because black lives matter,” she said. “If you’re not a person of color, you need to be using your voice. You have privilege that other people don’t, and you need to be using what you have for good.”

Senior Joseph Blashka said that simply not being racist is no longer enough.

“At this point, where we all unanimously agreed at the egregiousness at what occurred to George Floyd, we all found one thing to fight about,”he said. “It did a good job at bringing people together to focus on the real issue. White silence is violence.