The recurring themes were peace, unity, equality and justice as an estimated 300-400 people participated in a Peace Walk on June 6 from Breezy Hill Park to downtown Terrell and back.
The march came against a backdrop of demonstrations and protests across the nation in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.
The walk’s organizer, Alexis Burns, commented that people cannot be blind to police brutality and racial injustice in America and around the world.
“But we also have to have peace,” Burns told the gathering before the start of the Peace Walk.
“I’m so thankful we came together as a strong community due to what’s going on in the world,” she said. She told the diverse crowd that she had heard chatter about possible violence and unrest associated with the march. “But look at us here, we're right here witnessing peace.”
City leaders, including Police Chief Ken McKeown and several of his officers, joined in the march, where people carried signs denouncing police brutality against black citizens and chanted “Black Lives Matter!” “No justice no peace!” and “I can’t breathe!”
Before the march set off, a number of speakers addressed the crowd.
One speaker encouraged people to become politically active, to vote and seek changes in the law.
Mayor Rick Carmona told the crowd that the city of Terrell is listening to the concerns of its citizens.
“My role as mayor is to listen and learn from you today and let you know I’m here in support of peace and unity. I’m here for you to lean on me during this time of sorrow and pain. … You can count on us as leaders for unity moving forward. I’m here to let you know that as the mayor of Terrell I will always have your back as a citizen. And as long as I’m mayor, we will treat everybody equally no matter which district you live in, no matter what race, no matter what religion you are.”
Stephanie Turner gave an impassioned speech that touched on the history of black oppression in the United States, from colonial times to the modern day.
“I can’t breathe didn’t start on May 25, it started back in 1700,” Turner stated, referring to a time when African slaves were hunted down and detained or killed with ropes around their necks.
She implored city leaders to treat all residents fairly. She implored police to treat black males the same way they treat others.
“I have a 10-year-old son. I don’t want to bury my son. I raise my son well. I don’t want my son to accidentally reach over to get his ID and you think he’s a got a gun. You shoot my child you shoot me,” Tuner stated.
She called on people of all races and backgrounds to strive for change.
“We are tired. I don’t care what color you are. I don’t care what background you come from. I don’t care what police department you work for. I don’t care who you are. It’s up to you as an individual to make a difference,” Turner told the crowd.
Turner acknowledged the history-making moment she and others were about to embark on.
“Never have I ever walked down the street with the mayor. Never have I ever walked down the street with a police officer,” Turner noted.
After the Peace Walk concluded, Burns said she was “extremely pleased” with how the event turned out and the spirit of unity the event fostered.
She touched again on some people’s fears of civil unrest, fighting and clashes.
“But that’s not what we’re about,” she said. “Not in Terrell, Texas.”