Participants of a planned Black Lives Matter protest in Marble Falls say they will focus their message on “unity” in an effort to inform the community of their views and douse a political firestorm which erupted on social media.
“What I’d like to see that day is everyone coming together,” said Burnet County resident Mauri Harris. “I want them to see people coming together peacefully. It’s not a riot. We’re not looting.
“I just want them to see our perspective,” Harris added. “I just want them to have a heart change by seeing something different.”
Harris and four other Marble Falls High School graduates from the class of 2020 met with Marble Falls police officials on a June 5 to finalize the logistics of the protest. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 13 in Johnson Park.
Local police assisted the group in planning after fielding concerns from residents and business owners worried about images of violence and property destruction on the national level making its way to the city. A political backlash about the protest first announced a week ago also followed on social media.
The group initially recommended a protest in the right-of-way of the intersection of two state highways in the city. Next, officials steered the group away from a march route from the park to downtown Marble Falls.
Instead, the event will include a prayer circle in the park, faith-based speakers, brief comments from community leaders and a “breaking of the bread” lunch.
First responders and city council members are expected to attend.
Initially cast as a protest, the group wanted to express their objection to the in custody death of a black man on May 25 in Minnesota.
“We decided to do a protest, reflecting on our own prejudice that happened to us, and reflecting on the past events that happened to George Floyd that motivated us to do this in our own community where it actually affects us,” said MFHS graduate Shyann Brown.
Protest Organizing Spokeswoman Monique Breaux revealed that the effort by Brown, who is her niece, and the reaction on social media inspired her to participate as well.
Breaux wanted to make sure “that they fully understood the undertaking of putting together a demonstration.”
“I wanted to protect their identity as minors. I wanted to make sure that they understood there are adults here that care about what they’re going through, that they do have allies in this community,” she said. “Once you stand up for something, to promote change in such a small and tight-knit community, you have to be prepared for the ripple effect.”
The group said they hoped the June 13 date would bring attention to a pivotal part of black history.
The date in 1866 is marked by the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment that gave blacks freedom and the right to vote.
MFHS graduate Bryce Laake expressed his thoughts about the timing.
“It has strong significance for our black community here,”Laake said.
During the organizing meeting, Marble Falls police officials encouraged the group, who ultimately agreed, to avoid leaving the park and marching into downtown Main Street, due to “safety” concerns.
Organizers believe they can still communicate their message while in the park.
“We want people to know that this is going to be a peaceful demonstration. We are Marble Falls citizens, citizens of the Highland Lakes, productive members of society, active in voting,” Breaux said. “We are Christians who love this community. We frequent Johnson Park. We shop on Main Street,” Breaux added. “We’re not here to bring a dark cloud over Marble Falls. We want it to be a place where all people are accepted.”