WINCHESTER — A Black Lives Matter protest calling for criminal justice reform is scheduled for noon today on South Pleasant Valley Road sidewalks near the entrance to Walmart.
The protest is being organized by Shenandoah University graduates Danee Simmons and Whitney Woodall. Woodall said the protest will be peaceful and that participants will not block traffic. Protesters plan to hold signs.
Although three protests for racial justice have been held recently in Winchester, Woodall said much work still needs to be done.
“I’ve posted a lot on social media, and I just keep getting the same types of responses and comments back that, ‘This isn’t really an issue’ and ‘all lives matter’ and stuff like that,” Woodall said. “So I just want to change someone’s mind. That’s why we are doing it in a very public place where there’s a lot of traffic. So hopefully somebody that’s passing by maybe thinks and they can stop and talk to us and figure out why we are protesting and what the issues actually are.”
Woodall, who just graduated with a degree in criminal justice from Shenandoah University, said reforming the criminal justice system is a top priority, saying the system “is based on systemic racism.” She expects the protest to last several hours, rain or shine.
“We are open to talk. We are not there to confront anybody or to be non-peaceful. We want to be there to educate and talk about these issues. If anybody wants to come talk to us or debate, they are more than welcome.”
Protests against racism and police brutality have been held around the world since the May 25 police killing of 46-year-old George Floyd, a black man who died in custody while a white officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.