The sound of protestors singing “Happy Birthday” echoed down Franklin Street on Friday as students and community members circled the American flag in the Peace and Justice Plaza to honor the life of Breonna Taylor, who would have turned 27 that day.
To honor Taylor, a Black woman fatally shot by Louisville police officers as she slept in her apartment in March, hundreds gathered for “Chapel Hill for Black Lives,” a peaceful demonstration on Friday co-sponsored by UNC Black Congress and UNC Black Student Movement.
Starting at 3 p.m., protesters marched over the course of about three hours from SASB Plaza to the Peace and Justice Plaza in front of the Chapel Hill Courthouse.
Surrounded by crowds dressed in purple, Taylor’s favorite color, student leaders from the two groups — who requested to remain anonymous due to safety concerns — began the event by acknowledging incidents of police violence, which they said resulted in “Black deaths piling up day by day, generation by generation.”
In a statement released May 30, BSM said the recent killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed and George Floyd reflect the historical struggle of Black Americans.
“We recognize that these tragic killings are not isolated events, but instead represent a mechanism of the systemic bigotry and white supremacy plaguing our country since its inception,” the statement said.
The Black Lives Matter movement should include black people of different genders and sexual orientations, one student leader said at the protest.
"When we say, 'Black lives matter,' we don't mean 'some Black lives matter,' we mean 'all Black lives matter,'" she said.
Student leaders reiterated that it is important to abolish, rather than reform, unjust systems.