(July 3, 2020) About 200 marchers chanted “Black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe,” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police” as they marched through Main Street in Downtown Berlin Saturday to protest police brutality and racial injustice.
The march was organized by Rosie Bean, Denise Meade-Cervantes, Dr. Roxie Dennis-Acholonu and Adrian Bowen in response to the reported distribution of Ku Klux Klan literature in plastic bags throughout Worcester County.
Bean said the march drew an outpouring from the community with about 200 participants, including residents of Berlin, Salisbury, Pocomoke, Ocean City and Ocean Pines.
“When Black lives are under attack, what do we do?” Participants chanted in response, “Stand up, fight back.”
Participants marched from Stephen Decatur Park on Tripoli Street through Main Street, holding signs that read “Get your knees off their necks” and “Why are you more outraged by damaged property than by the loss of Black lives?” referring to how Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Then, marchers stopped outside of Stevenson United Methodist Church, 123 N. Main Street.
Guest speakers delivered their messages as water bottles were distributed to the crowd in the 90-degree heat.
Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing and Berlin Councilmember Elroy Brittingham made reassuring remarks about efforts to increase social justice in the town.
Pocomoke City Councilmember Todd Nock followed, telling Berlin residents to pay attention to who came to support the march and thanked Brittingham for representing the mayor and council.
Solid Rock Outreach Ministries Pastor Robert Brooks emphasized that the U.S. has a love problem greater than a racial or legislature problem.
The theme of messages was “love thy neighbor” from the Gospel of Mark.
“Everybody is important,” Dr. Roxie Dennis-Acholonu added.
About 70 participants remained for speeches in the park after the march, Bean said.
Nock, Bean, Dennis-Acholonu, Meade-Cervantes, Bowen and his wife, Brianna Bowen, spoke.
Bean added that the African American Coalition of Worcester County hopes this is the start of “bigger and better things for Worcester County.”
According to its Facebook page, the coalition will focus on issues such as voting rights and suppression, education, government corruption, racial injustice, police brutality and LGBTQIA and human rights.
Bean said she hopes that the local marches demonstrate how important it is for the community to get involved in the electoral process and social activism.