The only thing that reverberated more than the chants of 300 people marching through the streets of York on Sunday night was the peace that cloaked the entire event.
Protesters of different ages and races walked down Congress Street during the Black Lives Matter march, which was organized last week in response to the shooting deaths of black men by police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana. York police officers lined the route to keep it secure, and some walked and talked with the protesters. About halfway through the march, members of Lifeway Church said "God bless you" as they handed out bottles of water to the protesters.
Among chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “No justice, no peace” and “Guns down, stop the violence” were the names of people lost to violence, locally and nationally, displayed on signs and posters.
“Where do I begin?” Kendra Boyd said to the crowd in downtown York, reading off the names of black men killed by police “without consequences.”
She told reporters before the march that “we are all human,” and the message of Black Lives Matter is one that can and should be appreciated by all races.
While speaking to the crowd at the march’s conclusion, Boyd read the names of local homicide victims. And she read the names of the Dallas police officers shot to death during a protest earlier this month.
“Police officers that are serving our country and laying their lives on the line to protect us,” she said, calling for people of all races to come together to end the violence.
“Why are we so quick to choose sides when we are killing each other?” she said. “Racism is real. It’s not only in the white community, the black community. It’s in every race. But together, we can make a change.”
Vioncey Dixon, whose sister, E’monnie, was shot to death in York earlier this year, urged the black community to demonstrate the meaning of Black Lives Matter.
“Everybody says black lives matter, but (E’monnie) was shot down in front of plenty of her own people, and still nobody will speak up,” she said. “Everybody’s life is important. How can you say black lives matter and want other races to respect you, but black people are killing each other?”
York police reported no incidents or arrests stemming from the march, which went from Jefferson Field to downtown.
Chief Andy Robinson was one of several local officials present on the stage during the presentation. He urged residents to work with law enforcement to investigate all killings regardless of the victim’s race.
“God commands us, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ yet it still happens,” he said. “He also commands to love thy neighbor as thyself, which some do and we all should.
“‘How good it is when God’s people live in unity,’” he said, quoting Psalm 133.