A sea of people gathered at Dennis Alley Park (also known as Waban Park) Sunday to demand equality and justice for marginalized communities in the wake of continued race-related tragedy.
Before marching through town, the massive crowd of hundreds of people listened to a number of speakers, and heard a tribal drum song played by members of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head.
There was hardly an unmasked face in sight, as marchers and protesters raised their signs and chanted “No justice, no peace.”
Diamond Araujo spoke through a megaphone, saying that the community has gathered to march for all the things that have been withheld from African Americans and other oppressed groups for far too long.
“We will march for education, ending police brutality, public health, and creating a better world for all,” Araujo said.
Signs with the names of Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Bell, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and George Floyd, were raised high in the air advocating for defunding of police departments, demilitarization of police, and accountability for officers who use excessive force.
But the main goal of the march was unification against oppression and unfair treatment of people of color.
Seasonal resident Zoe, who asked her last name be withheld, said she believes it’s time to address the systemic racism that has been embedded so deeply in American culture.
“As a country, as a people, we need to come together. Just saying ‘I stand with the community’ isn’t enough anymore. Words just don’t cut it, it’s time for action,” Zoe said.
Another marcher, Camille Cuzzupoli, said an obvious solution is to defund the police departments, but suggested that more mental health professionals be integrated into police forces across the country.
After the short speech, the march headed down to the Island Queen, up toward Circuit Avenue, then down to the basketball courts and back to Dennis Alley Park.
Sisters Monica and Molly Carroll agreed that there needs to be more awareness and education around racial inequality and the plight of marginalized communities.
Monica said she hopes people who might not usually be involved in civil activism get involved now. “We need those who don’t usually show up to come out,” Monica said. She also said there needs to be more accountability for those who commit racially motivated acts, such as police officers who use excessive force.
“We need to see a big shift in how these police forces are funded, and where those funds are going,” Molly said. “And as for police brutality, there needs to be consequences for these actions.”
Laura Bryant said she was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard to a family who did not see the color of someone’s skin as a determining factor in how they should be treated.
“My mother Betty Bryant was a major activist. In our household growing up, we treated everyone with fairness and respect,” Bryant said. “I am hoping these most recent tragedies make people see the light — We all bleed red.”
Caroline Miller said she is here to support the young people that have been leading the way in advocating for racial justice all the way back to when Martin Luther King Jr. led the civil rights movement.
Miller also noted that, in order for justice to be brought to marginalized communities, everyone must be on-board with the movement, not just those being oppressed.
“I am glad to be in a community where so many non-black people are taking on the cause and showing out for black justice and equality,” Miller said. “This world is not a good place without liberty and justice for all.”