Demonstrators protesting police brutality and racism held signs and chanted along York Road outside the Target in Cockeysville on June 13, adding their voices to a series of protests that took place in Baltimore County that weekend.
The participants, aligned with the nationally prominent Black Lives Matter movement, shared messages written on handmade signs, beckoning support from oncoming commuters and pedestrians. With the day’s temperature high at 80 degrees, the protesters stood or sat in the shade under the trees lining York Road from Alms House Drive to Galloway Ave.
The demonstration on York Road came in the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, after Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost 9 minutes. In a video of Floyd’s arrest, he repeatedly said “I can’t breathe.” Since Floyd’s death, Americans have taken to the streets in nationwide protests against systemic racism and police brutality, including the protest on York Road and a separate protest, organized by BlackLivesMatterBmore, in downtown Towson later that day.
“I don’t believe the color of your skin should determine the type of treatment you get at all, so that’s why I came out here, and just to get out here and share the message,” Eric Hough, a clinical lab assistant at the University of Maryland Medical Center, said. “I don’t believe that Baltimore cities should give one-fourth of what the city police department is getting … there’s still a lot of issues that happen in the community and sometimes money just don’t solve it.”
Hough, 30, said he heard of the protest through a friend’s wife, and had protested earlier at UMMC as part of a movement called “White Coats for Black Lives,” where hospital employees knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds – the amount of time Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck.
Other participants affirmed their support for reallocating government spending towards expanded access to social services. Katie Babcock, a mental health therapist, expressed her dismay at ballooning police expenditures.
“Our police force, our military has some of the highest budgets in the entire world and we can simply take that money and provide support that people who struggle with substances need, people who struggle with mental health services need,” Babcock, 37, said.
“We can provide social workers, community recreation centers, community banks, housing - we can just allocate that money to where it’s needed. We don’t need more incarcerated people, we need people who have jobs and who have housing.”
Marcus Jackson, 27, said his reasons for protesting were simple:
“I’m fighting for a cause and I’m tired of bullshit.”