Demonstrators Celebrate Juneteenth, Protest Police Brutality

Left: Eric Garner's final moments; Right: Saturday's Juneteenth demonstration in Roxbury

Left: Eric Garner’s final moments; Right: Saturday’s Juneteenth demonstration in Roxbury

BOSTON — Activists and concerned citizens held a demonstration Saturday in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston to celebrate Juneteenth and protest against police brutality.

Juneteenth is a celebration that commemorates the the end of slavery in the United States, tracing its roots back to the June 19, 1865 announcement that slavery was abolished in the former Confederate States of America.

One demonstration organizer, Tahia Sykes, told a local CBS affiliate that one goal of the event was to break down barriers:

“We’re asking for humanity, transparency and clarity,” she says. “Most important, (we’re) letting the community know that we’re here and that their voices are important and they have the ability to really make a change.”

Some at the protest took the opportunity to discuss the deaths of Eric Garner, whose death and attempted suppression of evidence have sparked protests and demonstrations across the country.

Sykes addressed the crowd of demonstrators during the rally, explaining her belief that it is possible to resist police intimidation and reform a corrupt system she believes caused the deaths of numerous people:

“[Police officers] want to be judge, jury, and executioner on the streets in which we live,” Sykes said. “They are attempting to intimidate us … our community, and they don’t have the power to do that unless we give it to them.”