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Juneteenth rally, march draws thousands to downtown Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 19, 2020 at 7:04 pm PDT

Summary

A crowd gathered at Jack Poole Plaza before streaming through downtown streets toward Sunset Beach

Chants of "Black Lives Matter" and "No justice no peace" rang out as the crowd gathered

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Thousands marched through downtown Vancouver in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, in the third major demonstration against police brutality and systemic racism since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25.

A crowd gathered at Jack Poole Plaza before streaming through downtown streets toward Sunset Beach.

Chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice no peace” rang out as the crowd gathered.

NEWS 1130’s Patrick Swadden described the atmosphere at Sunset Beach where a stage was set up to feature performances and speakers.

“The demonstration — like the last two — remains incredibly peaceful,” he said, adding people were dancing and music was playing.

“People are almost celebrating the movement. Obviously it’s a serious and solemn movement, but there’s a celebratory atmosphere.”

One speaker said that although these protests started as a response to police killings in the U.S., they present an opportunity to confront the reality of racism in Canada.

 

Organizers explained the significance of the date on Thursday.

“Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of [the end of] slavery in the United States. It was on June 19th, 1865 that slaves were emancipated in Texas,” organizer Nova Stevens said Thursday.

June 19 is the day Union soldiers arrived in Texas with news the war had ended, and that slaves were now free. However, the Emancipation Proclamation was made official two years prior, in 1863.

Years later, Juneteenth still holds significant value.

“Even though it is an American holiday, it doesn’t mean that we cannot take that time to still reflect on how racial injustices affect us in our very home as well,” added march spokesperson Clement Isanganino.

“Our ancestors marched, so it’s actually like empowering a different level. They marched for us so that we wouldn’t have to go through all this and now that we have to do the exact same thing they had to do, it’s liberating,” says co-organizer Shamika Mitchell.

With files from Miranda Fatur