ANGLETON — Rosharon resident Bre’Jon Lundy believes that when it comes down to it, Rosharon and Angleton are one and the same.
“Rosharon is Angleton and Angleton is Rosharon. We’re a family,” Lundy said.
The same goes for Brazoria County, he said.
“Down here people will say, 'Oh, I’m from Freeport,’ or ‘Oh, I’m from Angleton,’ but when you get out of state or you go to Houston, you say, ‘I’m from Brazoria County,’” he said.
Brazoria County is one community, and it showed Saturday when people from all walks of life and all different parts of the county gathered to march and to demonstrate against racial injustice in response to the death of George Floyd. Angleton officials estimated more than 500 people participated in the event; more watched from along the parade route.
The march might have been prompted by George Floyd’s death, but the demonstration was for all races, Angleton resident Victoria Williams said.
The event was initially organized by Lundy, a 21-year-old Angleton High School graduate who hoped to raise awareness and a sense of togetherness in the community.
“We were all sitting on Twitter and we were all angry about the George Floyd thing,” Lundy said. “And I was like, ‘We can’t keep sitting on Twitter. We have to get active in the community.’”
Word of the event quickly spread through social media. After Angleton's city leaders realized how much of a following it was getting, they began looking into it and developing plans to ensure the safety of demonstrators and the community, Police Chief Aaron Ausmus said.
“A massive, collaborative effort with multiple law enforcement agencies,” including the Angleton Police Department, the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, the Brazoria County Constable’s Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety, developed to keep the event peaceful, Ausmus said.
In a show of goodwill, police officers also elected to purchase water to hand out to participants, he said.
Volunteers also handed out water and Gatorade along the route of the march, which traveled from the Bates and Dickey Park complex in Angleton to the Brazoria County Courthouse via South Walker Street, Highway 35, North Erskine Street and West Locust Street.
Hayley Velasco and her mom, Julia Lampe, watched the march from the sidelines, but participated by holding signs and chanting.
“It’s gone on for so long and it’s so tiring that people are still going through this after everything,” Velasco said of racism and inequality. “It’s unbelievable, honestly, that this is still happening.”
“We’re hoping that voices are heard and we’re hoping that there is a change in our justice system — that we could come together and realize that there’s no life that’s valued more than another,” Lampe said.
Participants carried homemade signs, some referencing George Floyd’s death and others referencing the fight against racism and quest for equality. They chanted as they walked, and when they congregated at the courthouse, the majority silently knelt in the grass with one fist in the air for 8 minutes, 36 seconds, the length of time a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on Floyd's neck during their fatal encounter.
Rosharon resident Lois Castile — a mother of two sons plus grandsons and great-grandsons — marched because she believes black lives matter, she said.
“They’re killing out our future,” Castile said. We won’t have a legacy to leave here because they’re being killed out and I think it’s really, really time for a change. I think it’s very much needed.”
Bystander Irma Luna did not participate in the demonstration, though she had family members who did. Several people left their houses to see the march and decided to join.
“It’s peaceful. They’re not rioting,” Luna said. “I think we need this.”
There were only heat-related incidents and no arrests made as the march and protest remained peaceful.
“This is how a demonstration or a protest ought to be,” Mayor Jason Perez said.
Seeing everybody come together peacefully and as equals was the main thing for Angleton resident Davion Jackson.
“I want to take away a lot of knowledge as far as things are gonna change, things are gonna be better,” Jackson said. “Stop all the violence; stop being treated like we’re not the same as everybody else. We’re all equal — everybody should be treated that way, too.”
Angleton resident Cere Muscarella hoped to see people demonstrate their own anti-racism, rather than demonstrate for the cause of anti-racism, he said.
“Because this will help for a short time,” he said. “This will bring awareness for a short period of time, but living out anti-racism will make a difference for a lifetime.”