Groups of people packed into downtown Auburn Sunday afternoon to protest following the extrajudicial killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black male, by a Minneapolis police officer.
Floyd's death, which occurred on Monday, May 25, has sparked similar protests across the country in the past week including one in Opelika on Saturday.
Protestors at Toomer's Corner on Sunday held signs with slogans such as "Black Lives Matter," "Fight White Supremacy" and "White Silence is Violence."
Similarly, the group shouted some of the messages which have been used by protestors across the country. Chants of "I can't breathe," "No justice; no peace" and "Don't shoot" echoed off the surrounding buildings.
Sign up for our newsletter
Get The Plainsman straight to your inbox.
Many of the protestors could be seen wearing masks, a reminder that these nation-wide protests are taking place amidst an on-going pandemic.
Ray Scott, one of the protestors at Toomer's Corner, said that events like the one on Sunday are over due.
"This protest is very necessary because enough is enough," Ray said. "Not all cops are bad, but if you have five bad cops and ten good cops, and none of them do anything about it, now you have 15 bad cops. That's the problem in our society."
Scott said that a lot of the issues being discussed across the nation have a direct impact on the Auburn community.
"In this nice, little, gated town that we have, it's not meant for, let's be honest, African Americans anymore," she said. "If you look at how the buildings are structured, what's being brought to this town, there's less and less places that are affordable for low-income [people] that just cannot afford to live here, and that affects a lot of African Americans."
Furthermore, Scott said that while Sunday's protest was important, it is only the beginning.
"Things have to change," she said. "I think it was a great turnout. I'm excited that it was peaceful. It felt more like a pep rally than a protest, which is fine; that's the first step."
This protest also comes months after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed black man, in Georgia. Arbery was jogging down a road on February 23, when two white men began to follow him in their truck. Arbery was then shot and killed by one of those men after they attempted to stop him.
Around 3 p.m. some of the protestors marched around the downtown area before stopping in front of the Auburn Public Safety building. This building houses, among other things, Auburn's city council meetings and the city's police department. There, the chanting of slogans and Floyd's name continued until the protestors held a nine-minute moment of silence. These nine minutes represented the nine minutes when a police officer had his knee on Floyd's neck.
During and immediately following the protest at Toomer's Corner, two of Auburn's most prominent administrators released statements affirming the University's commitment to "work toward change and healing."
On Twitter, Allen Greene, Auburn's athletic director, released a video in which he shared how he and his family were attempting to have an impact on the world around them.
"The only thing I can think of is follow your North Star," Greene said. "For us in our athletics department, our North Star and our guiding light remains to be to educate, develop, support our student athletes at every opportunity."
Greene said that the importance of educating and developing young people today is becoming increasingly apparent.
"Even in times in a health pandemic, financial crisis and civil unrest, we must continue to guide our young people to help them be leaders of tomorrow," he said. "You know what, we even need them to be leaders of today."
Soon after Greene's message on Twitter, the University's president, Jay Gogue, sent a letter to the Auburn community.
"While we acknowledge the painful reality that prejudice and bigotry exist, we stand resolute that they have no place in the Auburn Family," Gogue said. "As an institution that values and embraces each individual, we oppose hate and exclusion and acts that promote them."
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.Support The Plainsman