A large crowd of Enterprise residents, of all races, showed up on Wednesday, June 3, to hold a peaceful protest against racism and the killing of black Americans by police officers.
Protesters held up signs and chanted things like “black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace” and “George Floyd,” the latter chant being the name of the Minneapolis man who was killed by four police officers weeks ago, while handcuffed and lying on the ground. Organizers also passed out water and facemasks to protestors who wanted them.
Alonza Sibert, the Enterprise woman originally responsible for coming up with the idea to hold protests, said that she came up with the idea after hearing numerous acquaintances talk about traveling to other, bigger cities for marches and protests.
“I was on the way to Dothan with one of my friends and I kept hearing people say ‘Let’s go here, lets go there,’ and my thing is (change) starts where you’re from and where you live at,” Sibert said. “That’s where it starts from. If you want change you have to see change here first. They say this is the City of Progress, well it starts right here with us.”
Sibert said that each person had their own reasons for protesting but to her it was all about her children and standing up to corrupt police officers.
“I’m out here standing up for my children,” she said. “I’m raising my kids here in Enterprise, this is where they were born. I don’t see color. Some people think this is just about race but to me it’s all about corrupt cops.
“It’s not about us being divided. We have to stand together in this with one voice. Everyone has a different reason for being out here but I’m standing in the gap for my children and against corrupt cops.”
Enterprise Stand Up’s Cedric Gibson – who spent the afternoon with a megaphone encouraging protestors and even encouraging passers by – had a similar reason for protesting.
“I’m out here to fight for a very important cause,” Gibson said. “I’ve sat back too long watching brothers and sisters – men and women – being killed.
“It’s not just about black lives, it’s about all lives, but right now the task at hand is black lives because we’re the ones being targeted in the streets. Once we can heal that we can move on to other important things. There’s more issues out there, there is a lot of things that need healing in the world. We need peace and love in our world.”
Gibson, who is a U.S. Army veteran, emphasized that saying “black lives matter” did not mean that all others lives don’t.
“When we say ‘black lives matter’ I want to make it clear we aren’t saying that just black lives matter,” Gibson said. “All lives do matter. I was in the infantry in the Army. I don’t care about what color you are, I put my life on the line for everyone.
“We want people to know that black lives matter, though, and make things better in our community and the black community is hurting right now.”
Gibson said he was thrilled at the turnout at the protest and the peaceful nature that was upheld.
“It’s beautiful,” Gibson said. “I give all the credit to God because that’s who is allowing us to be out here. He gives us the strength, our peace and our love.
“I love Him with all my heart and so do all of these people out here or they wouldn’t be out here.”
Sibert said that the turnout meant a lot to her, as well.
“I just cannot believe this,” Sibert said as she looked out at the protestors. “I’m so happy. Words cannot describe how I feel.”
A “Rally for Peace” will be held in Enterprise from 2 until 5 p.m. with a march from City Hall to the Coffee County Courthouse on Sunday, June 7.