Over 2,500 Gather for Peaceful Monroe County George Floyd Memorial March in Stroudsburg
STROUDSBURG (JUN 2 2020) – Over 2,500 Monroe County residents, legislators, and police gathered in Dansbury Park, East Stroudsburg, yesterday and walked together to Courthouse Square in Stroudsburg, giving voice to their feelings over the murder of George Floyd one week before by a Minneapolis police officer.
Carrying homemade signs and wearing COVID masks, the marchers snaked through the ‘burgs. Chants of George Floyd’s name mixed with “I Can’t Breathe”, “No Justice - No Peace”, and more, expressed their sorrow and anger over yet another black man dead at the hands of police in America. “We got to the point where we got tired of it. Every week, every month, it's like another black man has got killed,” said march leader, Caseem Johnson.
Led by police on motorcycles, in squad cars, and alongside them in the march, they peacefully made their voices heard in the heart of Monroe County. As the front of the rally rose up over the crest of Veteran’s Memorial Bridge spanning Brodhead Creek between Stroudsburg and East Stroudsburg, the rear extended all the way back to Rudy’s Tavern. In contrast to some scenes elsewhere in Pennsylvania and the country, the protesters did not match angry words with actions - there were no arrests, no property damage, and no injuries.
Johnson, of East Stroudsburg, was the driving force behind the “Monroe County George Floyd Memorial March”. He, along with Adam Rodriguez, and Thomas Jones, president of Monroe County United., promoted the event as a peaceful expression from the start. “I wouldn't go out and destroy my community. I don't feel like that would help. So we chose to do it a peaceful way and that's a better message,” Johnson said.
“The solution is unity, that we all come together, that we are able to respect one another, respect each other's race and culture,” said Jones. To help enforce the notion of unity and promote a peaceful event, Johnson spoke with police in advance. They mapped out the route and several officers, including Stroud Area Regional Police Department Chief Jennifer Lyon, walked with the protesters.
The attendees were mostly younger, but included people of all races, ages, and stations in life. Families came out, like the Schuberts from Delaware Water Gap. The four carried homemade signs and thought it was important to show unity. Lora Schubert also thought it a valuable lesson for her home-schooled children, Andy, 13, and Claire, 9, who made their own signs for the event.
Jess Davis, of Mount Pocono, attended the event with her friend, Nicole Riddick, of East Stroudsburg, and her family. “Today was therapeutic,” Riddick said after the event. She saw it as “an opportunity to show our kids what it means to stand for something important.”
Davis reflected on the diversity and unity of the crowd. “Today I marched with my dear friends, neighbors, strangers and police officers,” Davis said. “It was peaceful and powerful. I listened. I shared. I cried. I prayed. Never underestimate the power of your voice and presence even if you don't have the answers.”
US Congressman Matt Cartwright, whose district includes most of Monroe County, also attended the event. Later he said he was proud of the peaceful response of Northeast Pennsylvania.
“Our nation is at its strongest when we put our differences aside, build bridges and come together to confront our challenges,” Cartwright said. “That also rings true as we face this test. The many peaceful demonstrations and displays of solidarity between law enforcement and protesters are important steps toward addressing racial injustice. It’s important that we build on them by listening and taking action.” State Representative Maureen Madden also attended and spoke.