GREENSBORO — The blood of people like George Floyd is on the ballot this election season, according to attorney Ben Crump.
After a march to the polls Friday evening, Crump, a civil rights attorney who represents Floyd's family and others who've accused law enforcement of abusing their authority, spoke to a group of about 80 people on N.C. A&T’s campus.
The death of Floyd on Memorial Day sparked protests across the world. Floyd, a Black man, died in the custody of Minneapolis police after an officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. People took to the streets in cities across the country, including Greensboro, and chanted Floyd’s name, calling for an end to police brutality and the unjust treatment of Black people.
“Our children’s future is on the ballot,” Crump said.
Crump was one of several speakers Friday who addressed a group of voters during a rally in front of the university’s clock tower. The event, organized by the Rev. Greg Drumwright and the local coalition Justice for the Next Generation, began with a “march to the polls” from Phill G. McDonald Plaza to A&T’s early voting site. On Saturday, the group plans to host another march in Graham.
People held signs high as they listened and marched down Market Street toward A&T, with police blocking traffic to clear a path. Along with the familiar “Black Lives Matter” signs, marchers carried signs urging people to “stand against hate” and “vote for change.”
As early voting in North Carolina comes to an end Saturday, Drumwright and others reminded everyone to cast their ballots. They also urged people to keep in mind as they vote such issues as the deaths of Black people at the hands of law enforcement.
The marchers chanted the names of people like Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Tamir Rice — all Black people who were killed by law enforcement. Rice was killed in Ohio in 2014 by an officer who saw him holding what later proved to be a toy gun.
"My client, 12-year-old Tamir Rice," Crump said. "... If you want to know why we've got to vote like our children's lives depend on it, you go watch that video of Tamir Rice because Tamir Rice's blood is on the ballot."
In campaigns across the country, Republicans have largely proclaimed their support for law enforcement. In a rally in Greensboro on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence assured those attending that he and President Donald Trump would continue to "back the blue" if Trump is reelected. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden plans to "strengthen America's commitment to justice and reform our criminal justice system," according to his official website.
Crump was accompanied by Floyd's niece, Brooke Williams, and nephew, Brandon Williams. Brandon Williams plans to speak at the march in Graham on Saturday.
Brooke Williams, 17, spoke to the marchers in Greensboro Friday evening. She choked up and had to pause to pull herself together while speaking. She urged the voters to focus on local elections.
"When you walk into the grocery store, who greets you?" Williams asked. "Not the president."
She said electing the right people to Congress and judicial seats is where change begins.
"It is time to not make America great again," Williams said, "but better."
Contact Jamie Biggs at 336-373-4476 and follow @JamieBiggsNR on Twitter.