Black Lives Matter Weston organized a protest and march Friday afternoon, down Bonaventure Boulevard from Library Park to City Hall. A few hundred people peacefully held signs and chanted, “Black Lives Matter” “Defund the Police” and “Weston Needs Change.”
A few people got overheated and fainted in the 90 degree-heat. Most people had masks on.
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Jean Qian, 16, is one of the organizers, most of which came from the Black Unity club at Cypress Bay High School. Qian will be a senior at the school next year.
She said she wanted to focus on local change in her community, instead of attending a larger uprising event.
“Black Lives Matter has been a movement for several years now, we hope that in the city of Weston it becomes more cognizant in the city officials’ minds that reform is really needed and also — just among students at Cypress Bay and young kids who realize that their casual racism needs to be checked,” she said.
Many at the protest and march called for defunding the police but they also talked more in-depth about what that could look like in Broward County, including reallocating funds from the Broward Sheriff’s Office.
“We hope that we can reallocate funding for the police department to things like mental health support in schools, to things like community wellness rather than funding the police for them to become so militarily-driven,” Qian said. “Which is why things like police brutality occur against people of color.”
Read More: ‘Are We Next?’: Small South Florida Protests Hit The Same Notes As Larger Ones
Along the route, Faris Safa, 20 said he wants to see the nationwide protest movement focus not just on what people are against, but more about what people are fighting for.
“I mean, we’re in Weston where most people don’t have to deal with the police…and people are still out on the streets fighting for change. Because it’s gotten that bad,” he said about police brutality.
He came to the march with a friend, Daniela Leiva, 18. She said, after living in both El Salvador and Luxembourg prior to living in the U.S., policing here unsettled her.
“When I came here, I found it kind of hypocritical to see that cops do kill a lot of citizens and they swear to protect citizens, but they’re not doing that,” she said.
WLRN’s Gerard Albert III contributed to this story.