A caravan will travel through parts of the Sandhills on Thursday to protest the killing of George Floyd, whose death in police custody has sparked a national outcry.
People participating in the demonstration are encouraged to decorate their vehicles. The protest is being organized by the N.C. Impact Coalition.
Lakisha Womack, a local educator who co-founded the coalition with her relatives Lanisha Bailey, Shirella Horton and Charles Taylor in 2016, said the group felt a caravan would minimize the protestors’ risk of exposure to the coronavirus.
“We want to show the right way to address the issue,” Womack said Monday in a phone interview. “With this being a retirement community, we can’t afford to have COVID-19 run rampant here.”
About 34 percent of Moore County‘s laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 involve residents older than 64, a demographic especially vulnerable to the disease. Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, during a press conference on Monday said she “fully support(s) the need to peacefully protest” Floyd’s death.
Acknowledging the many demonstrations held across the state over the weekend, Cohen said she was “heartened to see that in the midst of such pain, many showed their care for those around them by covering their faces.”
“In North Carolina, African Americans make up an estimated 22 percent of our population, yet account for 34 percent of our COVID-19 deaths,” she said. “Too many families have lost loved ones.”
Protestors will gather beginning at 3:30 p.m. at the National Guard Armory baseball field, located off Morganton Road in Southern Pines. Escorted by members of the Southern Pines, Pinehurst and Aberdeen police departments, the caravan will depart at 4 p.m., merging onto U.S. 15-501 and turning onto N.C. 5 before reconvening at the field, where Womack said representatives for various civic groups will be waiting to share information about their organizations.
“Our goal is for people to join these organizations and to make people aware that this is something that is going on in Moore County,” Womack said. “We also want people to join in on conversations about legislative change.”
Womack said families of individuals killed in altercations with law enforcement through the years are expected to participate in the demonstration. The event comes days after a peaceful protest in response to Floyd’s death was held in the parking lot of Walmart in Aberdeen.