By Dorothy J. Gentry
More than 500 people joined the nation in protesting police brutality, the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd and racial oppression during its recent Black Lives Matter protest in Cedar Hill.
Residents of this southern Dallas County city – which is 54 percent black – marched from the Cedar Hill Walmart near Uptown to the Cedar Hill Government Center, which houses the police department. They held signs – black, white, other races, young, old and more – and engaged in chants including “Black Lives Matter!”
Once assembled in front of the Government Center, residents heard from various speakers including Mayor Stephen Mason, Police Chief Ely Reyes, and 18-year-old Janell Baker, a Cedar Hill resident who is the 2020 Salutatorian of the School of Science and Engineering at Townview.
“I’ve never been one to delight in the workings of the American political system but I’ve always been one to stand up for what I believe in; and what I believe is that right now in this country we need drastic change” said Baker who will be attending Stanford University in the fall.
“The truth is that for over 400 years, black people in America have been enslaved, oppressed and treated as if we are less than human,” she said. “And the main problem we are facing currently is that the criminals who are committing these acts of hate are not being held accountable and for the most part are getting away with no punishment at all.”
This “complete lack of accountability” Baker told the crowd assembled, “is the complete lack of accountability that screams to people in this country that black lives do not matter which is why everyone has the responsibility to scream the opposite.
“Our lives do matter. Our lives have value and we deserve to be loved and celebrated.”
Residents and police were urged to continue the dialogue and building good relationships. The Tri-City Chapter of the NAACP – serving Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville and the surrounding communities – was also present and encouraged residents to join the organization and help continue fighting for racial progress.