A large crowd gathered in Portsmouth on Thursday evening for a Black Lives Matter rally, the latest in a series of events in the state sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Attendees filled the streets surrounding Market Square. The event, which included moments of silence, calls for justice, and chants of "No Justice, No Peace," ended with a march through downtown Portsmouth.
“Stop allowing the police to police themselves,” Ramsay Dean, an organizer for Black Lives Matter, told the crowd from the bed of a pick-up truck. “This clearly does not work. Body cameras and implicit bias and cultural sensitivity training is all great. But what ends police violence is accountability for their actions.”
Other speakers called for continued protests, and the need to have more people of color in positions of authority.
“If you want to change your police department, get on your police commission,” Joanna Kelley, a local business owner, said to cheers. “If you want a bill to be passed in your state Senate, run for state Senate.”
Many attendees said their personal experience with racism spurred them to attend the rally.
“You know, being a black person in this community, always watching my back, it can be painful,” said Jackie Gadsden of Portsmouth, who attended with her grandchildren. “But I feel a lot of love tonight. I’m still nervous, but it is great to see the love and support from so many people.”