FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A “Drive to Justice” motorcade from Lauderdale Lakes to Fort Lauderdale was one of several celebrations of Juneteenth on Friday in South Florida.
The group joined an afternoon rally in Huizenga Plaza, which then turned to some protesters heading to the Broward County courthouse and the county jail to demonstrate.
Police shut down an area of downtown to give them room to demonstrate, even as some of those protesters flipped them off.
The rally included members of Black Lives Matter and The Dream Defenders, and their focus was defunding the police.
“It’s a scary thing because we have been so conditioned to believe that we have to have police, that that’s the only way,” said Quayneshia Smith, of The Dream Defenders. “We don’t need someone to come with a gun and a taser when we know it can increase harm.”
The “Drive to Justice” motorcades to honor Juneteenth were happening in more than 30 cities across the county Friday. This one began at noon in Lauderdale Lakes with 40-50 cars headed to Fort Lauderdale.
While honoring the anniversary of the day in 1865 when enslaved black people learned they had been freed, it provided another opportunity to send a message about racial equality.
“Enough is enough. We’re not going to stand around and watch this anymore,” Rev. Dennis Grant, one of the local organizers said. “Too many black lives are being taken, and each time we demonstrate and each time we protest it calms down.
“This time we’re here to stay until the authorities understand that black lives matter.”
Earlier in Coral Springs, a separate protest had a twist — it was organized by Patricia Nicholas, a former law enforcement officer who says more people like her should speak up.
“At the end of the day, I’m still a black woman,” she said. “I still have a black son. And I just can’t stand to see this over and over and over. I just want it to stop.”