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'The old normal isn’t what we have to go back to': Organizers say change is the message of the movement

Following the death of George Floyd, peaceful protesters are desperate to make sure their message isn't lost among the violence.

DENVER — In all of the chaos – the coverage of riots and destruction across the country – there are peaceful protesters who are desperate to make their voices heard. It's important to remember what those original protesters are fighting for:

Equality and justice. 

It goes back to George Floyd, and the string of other black men and women killed before him. 

Floyd, an unarmed black man died last week while in the custody of police in Minnesota. In a video shared widely, a white officer is seen kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes while Floyd is heard saying he can't breathe. The officer was fired and has since been charged in connection with Floyd's death. Other responding officers were also fired but so far they have not been charged.

RELATED: Police appeared to be blocking traffic for peaceful protesters on day 6 of George Floyd rallies in Denver

The incident sparked outrage and days of protests across the country including here in Denver. At times some of those gatherings turned violent.

Local Denver leaders Tay Anderson, a Director on the Denver School Board, and Reverend Quincy Shannon of New Hope Baptist Church spoke to 9NEWS Monday about their goals for the continuing protests.

9NEWS: What do you want people to take from this movement? 

Tay Anderson: My message is simple - Let’s continue to make sure that we’re doing this for George Floyd and all of the others who have been senselessly killed. And let’s make sure that we’re doing this together.

Quincy Shannon: When coronavirus first hit, there were a lot of things we’ve been told all our life weren’t possible. Remote learning was impossible. For certain jobs working at home was not an option. 

It was just the idea that, 'This is what it always has to be. It’s always been this way so it’s not going to change.' And then when COVID-19 hit the U.S. we had to reposition what “normal” is and we did change.

The old normal isn’t what we have to go back to. Tomorrow is a new opportunity for us to do something better and I think it’s exciting to see people ready for that change.

Credit: Jonathan@JonathanPhillipsPhotography.com
Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen, left, addresses a crowd of thousands of protestors in front of the Denver Performing Arts Complex on Monday, June 1, 2020 .Chief Pazen and some of his officers marched alongside the protestors as they made their way through the city. Photo: Jonathan Phillips

9NEWS: After nearly a week of protests, you don't feel agitators are the only problem. Who else is distracting from the message?

Anderson: On Friday, protesters were demonstrating in the street and I guess the police didn’t want them protesting in the street. They [Denver Police] showed up in riot gear and I just don’t condone that. I feel like that’s a form of escalation that we did not need.

Shannon: My little sister, my father, my mother, my daughter, other family members who were there Friday – they watched the news that night and said, ‘Nobody’s talking about what we did. Nobody’s talking about the positivity. All they’re talking about is the trashcan being on fire and the conflicts with the police.’

It’s unfortunate because something that was so positive for hours got overshadowed by the negativity that happened. That prompted us to say, ‘Okay, we have to do it again but we have to be intentional about what our message is. We have to be intentional about where we’re meeting, how we’re breaking off. What are we going to do to control the narrative?’

9NEWS: What would you like us to learn from your experience as organizers of these monumental protests? 

Shannon: We’re not doing this for fun. We’re not doing this for “likes.” There’s a very real danger in the work that’s happening. But we can't afford not to be involved.

This is a people who understand that something is wrong and we’re literally putting our life in danger to make sure that we’re part of the change.

RELATED: Organizer frustrated with agitators turning to violence and overshadowing message

Anderson We’re done dying. We don’t want special treatment. We just want to be seen as human. 

Join in the peaceful protests. Let’s keep it peaceful and let’s make sure that we are able to see another day together.

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