Editor’s note: June 3 midday protests in DeLand that spanned from North Woodland Boulevard to the DeLand Police Department and Earl Brown Park in southern DeLand took a sharper tone than events described in Dr. Primrose Cameron’s coverage.
About 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, a group of protesters stood in the middle of the intersection of Woodland Boulevard and New York Avenue in Downtown DeLand, blocking traffic in both directions and chanting, “No justice, no peace. Abolish police.”
The group also read out the names of people who have been victims of police violence.
Their efforts were supported by DeLand police, whose officers stopped traffic in both directions on the two highways to allow the protest to continue safely.
After about 15 minutes, the group marched north on Woodland Boulevard. The group appeared to disband by midafternoon.
As of press time Wednesday evening, city officials were still reporting no arrests and no injuries.
Volusia County has joined many communities across the world in pushing forward toward justice for all with positive agendas and peaceful protests.
DeLand was host to protest demonstrations June 2 and 3. The gatherings remained peaceful, and no arrests were made at either event, a city spokesman said.
“As a white woman who is not staying silent, I was proud to stand up against injustice with my fellow DeLand citizens, because Black Lives Matter,” community member Samantha Hulsman said at the June 2 demonstration.
This is an example of the love of mankind within our communities.
Port Orange and Daytona Beach exhibited community connections May 31 across ages and races with protests to seek justice after George Floyd’s murder. DeLand’s event was no different.
“I am proud that as co-founder of a Downtown business, my business partner and I were able to stand and march with other Downtown merchants to show our support of the black community here in DeLand and across the country,” Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. co-owner Andy Sistrunk said, adding, “There are conversations happening that will turn into action in the future, and that will change our community for the better.”
Social media has played a pivotal role in helping people make real-time connections, and opening up lifetime possibilities for a peaceful world, but social media has the same opportunity to sow division and spawn fear. Rumors about planned violence and other misinformation posted online threatened to disrupt the sense of peace that prevailed at the actual gatherings.
At DeLand’s June 2 protest organized by Andrea McKinney and Jamie Mathews, hundreds of people from diverse walks of life — merchants, city officials, law enforcement, students and families — came together for so many reasons.
“Because people don’t realize the subconscious of systemic racism that they have been fed their entire life is why this march is important to me,” Deltona resident Jennifer Freeman said.
People, and their handmade protest signs, spoke of the need to abolish racism and hatred; others, with emotions on high, mourned the loss of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Some said they are tired of being tired, and others expressed frustration with a system that does not treat everyone well.
“This is a day I will never forget,” said Mitzi Caine, a West Volusia business owner. “Being a part of a peaceful protest against inequality and police brutality against black people and people of color was just amazing. First time in my life I ever took part in something so empowering!”
In the midst of the protest, what could be agreed on is the need for change and universal love.
“I think it was a great start to bring our community together. I want to encourage people to meet with one another. Whatever we can do at the DeLand Police Department, we want to do that,” DeLand Police Chief Jason Umberger said.
Ongoing protests, open discussions and events have been planned throughout the month in hopes of finding solutions that affect us all. There is more work ahead.
— Cameron, a longtime educator, writes a column for The Beacon called Cameron’s Chronicles. While her column has been on hold recently due to the coronavirus pandemic, we appreciate her coverage of these events. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.