Coppell organizes peaceful rallies alongside local, nationwide police brutality protests

Young+protestor%2C+Ben%2C+holds+up+his+sign+in+order+to+support+the+Black+Lives+Matter+movement+at+Town+Center+Plaza+in+Coppell+on+Wednesday.+The+Coppell+community+rallied+together+to+spread+awareness+about+BLM+and+fighting+against+racial+injustice.

Samantha Freeman

Young protestor, Ben, holds up his sign in order to support the Black Lives Matter movement at Town Center Plaza in Coppell on Wednesday. The Coppell community rallied together to spread awareness about BLM and fighting against racial injustice.

Shivi Sharma, Executive News Editor

Protests and assemblies accompanying the #BlackLivesMatter movements have formed across North Texas, including Plano, Denton, and Coppell. The protests are in response to incidents of police brutality across the country, particularly in the past few months. (Samantha Freeman)

An hour before the city’s 9 p.m. curfew, more than 2,000 protestors at Denton Square on Monday night echoed each other and protests across the nation, chanting “black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe”, clutching homemade signs as local police stood by. 

“When I got [to Denton Square], it was really loud, everybody was chanting and everybody was united,” Coppell High School senior Dorian Villalba said. “To me, attending the protest personally meant doing something other than posting on social media, and actually fighting for what I believe in.”

The protests are in response to incidents of police brutality across the country, particularly in the past few months. 

The deaths of Georgia man Ahmaud Arbery on Feb. 23, Kentucky woman Breonna Taylor on March 13, and Minneapolis man George Floyd on May 25 at the hands of white men, have sparked petitions and donations on social media in an attempt to demand changes to policing.

“It’s being brave because it’s really scary and being there was hard,” Villalba said. “My goals in attending the protests are just to be heard, and have a voice, and to be a part of the movement physically. To just support my black community and support black people in the community.”

The protests began in downtown Dallas and Deep Ellum on the evening of May 29 and continued during the week.

CHS junior Austin Lee was looking down from a window in her dad’s apartment in downtown Dallas as the protest took place in her street. 

“At first, it was really interesting to see all the people of the city all together, protesting for something that needs to be changed,” Lee said. “But later in the day, as more police showed up, it became a battle of police against people and they were shooting rubber bullets and tear gas and it got scary and tense really fast.”

In Coppell, residents have organized two events this week to stand with protestors, in coordination with the Coppell Police Department. On Wednesday, a peaceful rally took place at 4 p.m. at Town Center Plaza, with prayers led by Coppell resident Johnny Roberson followed by an open discussion session. 

“As an African American male, I am beyond frustrated, I am beyond tired,” Coppell resident, former Dallas Cowboy and founder of SteadFast Fitness and Performance Isaiah Stanback said to the crowd on Wednesday afternoon. “My parents had segregated water fountains. It wasn’t that long ago, so let’s not fool ourselves to think we’re so far removed from these situations and these issues. I appreciate you guys coming out, but there is a major issue even in this community. There are generational curses that every culture has to break, and if you don’t call it out when you see it, it’s going to continue to grow, and we’re going to face these things year after year. Control yourselves, control your emotions, be strategic, be impactful, have conversations and be vocal. If you don’t make people uncomfortable, there is no change.”

A second event, the Coppell Walk for Peace, is scheduled for tomorrow at 9 a.m. at the Pavilion nearby The CORE facility located at Andrew Brown Park East. Prayers will be led by pastors Norris McGill and Chad Kettler. 

Violence and vandalism have occurred alongside larger protests, including the use of force by law enforcement in Houston, Austin and Dallas, and destruction of local establishments, such as in Deep Ellum on Saturday night

According to Villalba, it’s important for attendees to exercise caution in a few key ways. 

“If you’re going to go, be safe,” Villalba said. “Wear a mask, wear neutral colors. Don’t get wrapped up in anything and become violent just because everyone else is. Stick to your morals and your beliefs.” 

Beyond attending protests, there are a number of ways for people to contribute to the movement. 

“There’s donating, there’s posting on social media – as much as it doesn’t do much, it does do something, and it at least shows that you have a stance and it can help motivate others to change and to think about things in a different way,” Villalba said. “You can donate, you can vote, you can sign petitions – there’s tons of spreadsheets – and Twitter is a good resource for that. There are tons of ways to get involved in the conversation.”

Follow @CHSCampusNews on Twitter for coverage of Coppell’s peaceful protests.