With protests breaking out across the country and the rest of the world, South Florida has hosted its own push for equality, such as with the Davie Protest. Organized by 20-year-old Davie resident Darwin Lopez, the Davie Protest extended across University Drive as people chanting variations of “no justice, no peace” demanded justice for the victims of police brutality June 6.
Beginning at noon and lasting for two hours, the protest saw South Floridians rally together to practice their First Amendment right. Determining where to make the message heard, Lopez chose a high-traffic location that would allow the protest to garner the most attention.
“When it came time to organize this, I just set my head to one thing and one thing only: making it happen,” Lopez said.
When the Davie Police heard of the protest, they reached out to Lopez and offered to section off the area to provide a safe protesting locale. Sectioning off the South-bound side of University Drive, from 36th Street to Sterling Road, police officers blocked entrances and directed traffic away from the group.
To alert other protesters of the event, Lopez posted a flyer on his Instagram page, @iamdarwing. Another South Florida page, @outofofficemia, also posted it. “People aren’t that into social media but don’t understand that the following we have can definitely make an impact,” Darwin said. “All I did was post. And the word got reached out for sure.”
At the protest, protesters toted homemade signs demanding racial equality. Employing a call-and-response approach, protesters shouted phrases such as “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.” Junior Sophia Hai, who previously attended a protest on Nob Hill Road, began some of these chants.
“I wanted to protest because the Black Lives Matter movement is a cause I strongly support,” Hai said. “I wanted to do more than post on social media, and I felt that peacefully protesting was a great way to have a larger voice in this movement.”
Reaching the halfway point two and a half miles later at the Target on University and Sterling, the protesters took a water break as Lopez gave a speech calling for reforms as fellow protesters encouraged people to vote. Inspired by his childhood in a low-income section of the state, Lopez pointed out the correlation between the economic status of the community and the quality of education.
The protesters turned around to march the way they came, heading North as more people joined. At the intersection of University and Griffin, protesters took a knee in solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Throughout the march back, the group continued their calls for justice and equality, developing a sense of unity. “It was a great event that brought the Davie community together in a peaceful yet effective way,” Hai said. “It’s awesome having people organize local protests like this that give community members an opportunity to stand up for their beliefs in their own cities.”
To end the protest, protesters lay on their stomachs with their hands behind their backs. Initially shouting “I can’t breathe,” the protesters ended the protest with nine minutes of silence, representing the amount of time Derek Chauvin suffocated George Floyd.
As the group dispersed at the end, protesters were alerting others of another that day, keeping the movement alive. “Today’s protest was amazing. We spoke out and definitely made an impact in Davie,” Lopez said. “I could not be any more happy and proud of my community. It was definitely more than I ever expected.”
Check out this Sun Sentinel article to learn about more protests in South Florida.