March against injustice draws strong support in Sherbrooke

By Gordon Lambie

A crowd of people estimated to number in the thousands gathered at Sherbrooke’s Place de la Gare on Sunday morning for a peaceful demonstration against racism, police brutality, and injustice. Ready with signs and chants to support their cause and face masks meant to protect one another from the coronavirus, clusters of people poured into the market square and surrounding area up to about 10:40 a.m. when the protest got moving.
Before starting, protest organizers spoke to the crow using a megaphone to underline the objectives of the event. The address invoked the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Sandra Bland as recent victims of an ongoing problem with police violence against people of colour, and underlined the fact that this is a problem not limited to the United States.
Despite the collective outrage and shared goal of putting an end to racism, the organizers stressed the position that Sunday’s gathering be a peaceful one.
“This is a peaceful march,” one member of the organizing team said. “We are united, hand in hand; we can be human in Sherbrooke.”
Organizers also called on the crowd to remember the threat of COVID 19 and wear masks at all times while respecting physical distance “as much as possible.” To this end, masks were made available to anyone who came without one on hand. The few police who were present for the start of the march could be seen moving through the crowd in pairs reminding people to wear their masks and to attempt to maintain a two-metre distance from one another as much as possible. The organizers, notably, thanked the police for their presence.
Marchers were also encouraged not to leave garbage on the ground and to be peaceful and respectful.
The march took an unusual route for a Sherbrooke protest, turning right on Belvediere Street in order to make its way to the police headquarters on Maurice Houle Street instead of taking the common route down to King Street and City Hall. From the police station, where the protestors heard a message of support from Police Chief Danny McConnell and knelt for eight minutes of silence, the march continued west along Galt Street to make its way to the campus of the University of Sherbrooke, where it ended in early afternoon.
Although the crowd was predominantly younger people, one could find participants of all ages among the assembled masses, from babies to seniors. The group was also quite diverse, with participation from a range of individuals and organized groups.

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