Park rally offers peaceful support

COURTESY PHOTOA Black Lives Matter rally was peacefully held in Derry's MacGregor Park last Saturday, joining other rallies in area communities to protest racial injustices around the nation following the death in Minnesota of George Floyd,

DERRY — It was a safely distanced gathering of peace and support last Saturday afternoon in Derry as people gathered for a Black Lives Matter rally in MacGregor Park.

Approximately 100 people turned out for the rally that included parents bringing their children of all ages along to see peaceful protest in action.

People wore masks and held signs during the two-hour event, with the final minutes putting many on their knees to protest following the death of George Floyd in Minnesota and many other social and racial injustices across the nation.

Protesters lined the park on East Broadway, waving to cars and holding many handmade signs of support.

Those driving by, in turn, offered waves and horns to herald support for the rally.

For one rally organizer Kimberly Taylor, she said it was something she felt she needed to do. And although there were several negative sentiments posted on social media about the gathering, Taylor said the day was a great showing of support.

"It was totally meant to be," Taylor said. "It was a perfect day."

Taylor said the subject of racial injustice and other issues has been part of her life for many years, dating back to the 1991 beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.

Four police officers were eventually acquitted of charges following King's beating, but several day of unrest and riots in Los Angeles followed that decision.

"I was tired of sitting on my couch feeling terrible," Taylor said. "I felt I had to do something. I wanted to be with people who felt the way I did."

Katie Saville Gifford of Derry brought along her entire family along.

“I’m glad I brought my family,” she said. “It was a good experience for them, and a good civics lesson for my children.”

Gifford’s children brought along signs they made calling for love, peace and justice.

Michelle Sawyer Moge said she wanted to be part of the rally and said it was important to be there.

As protesters stood along Broadway holding signs, Moge said most cars driving by were very supportive. And she said she appreciated seeing some of the younger protesters getting involved.

“Kids are going to show us the way, that’s for sure,” Moge said.

For Taylor, it was a peace-filled park in Derry where people wanted to offer their hope and thoughts for a better day to come.

"People showed love, they got together to give each other hope," she said.

Other rallies have been held in past days in communities around the region. A rally is planned in Londonderry June 12.

Taylor said a candlelight vigil might be next for organizers in Derry.

"We don't want this to stop," she said.

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