ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – The St. Pete Peace protest group marched in South Straub Park for more than 130 days for justice for black lives Saturday night.
The group called the protest on Saturday a “rally against hatred,” which was attended by nearly 300 people who silently marched from South Straub Park to St. Pete Pier.
“We had not only black and brown but also white allies, we had indigenous people and we are stronger overall,” said Reverend Andy Oliver, pastor of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Pete.
The group started the evening with several speakers before starting their march.
“With signs that speak for us, signs that speak with justice, signs that speak to Breonna Taylor, signs that speak to the change we need, but in a very non-confrontational way,” said Ken Welch, commissioner of the district of Pinellas.
The group caught up with a few dozen counter-demonstrators, who also started their evening in South Straub Park, before joining the St. Pete Peace protest group on the pier.
“We were harassed. There were people from the other side trying to stimulate them, and I saw it with my own eyes. So it was good for myself to see the peaceful protest going on and for people who want to bring violence and confrontation like we are hearing now, that’s not what this community is about, ”said Commissioner Welch.
The St. Pete Police Department formed a line to separate the two sides when the Rally Against Hate group urged their supporters not to get involved.
The group of counter-protesters later burned and tore down both a Nazi flag and an Antifa flag, telling the Black Lives Matter group that they are not fascists and not Nazis.
The “Rally Against Hate” group then marched back from the pier to South Straub Park.
“For 130 nights, young black, brown, white allies have marched in this city, not a single piece of property has been destroyed,” said Reverend Oliver.
Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch asked just one thing from counter-demonstrators and from people who may not understand their message: “Have a chat because it’s about moving the justice system, moving things like cameras, Sheriff Gualtieri It’s now about reform, about justice and listening to everyone in the community, ”said Commissioner Welch.
The St. Pete Peace Protest Group plans to continue demonstrating for justice.