BROWARD (CBSMiami) – On Saturday, the Black Lives Matter Alliance of Broward County plans to fill Stranahan Park in Fort Lauderdale and they expect hundreds of people to join them as they rally against police violence.
Members of Dream Defenders and Black Lives Matter joined in Fort Lauderdale Friday evening to express their anger and sadness at the killings of Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Both men were shot dead by police in separate incidents earlier this week.
“I’m in a place where I’m scared,” said Jodi Henningham, a black woman, who said she fears for her safety and the safety of her family members and friends during interactions with police.
Members prepared for Saturday’s rally against police violence. They made signs, lit candles and prayed while remembering those whose lives have been lost in police shootings. They also spoke of the Dallas shootings, where a black gunman is believed to have murdered 5 police officers in a racially motivated attack.
“We’re devastated by any reckless loss of life,” said Jasmen Rogers, a member of Dream Defenders and Black Lives Matter.
However, these protestors say it is a misconception that they hate police.
“We understand the risks that they take and the things that they do but we have to speak out against the wrongdoings when they happen,” Henningham said.
And they join a growing chorus of protestors like those laying on the ground at a “die-in” outside of President Obama’s home in Chicago and protesters who gathered in London, New York, Atlanta, Washington and Baltimore.
Back in Fort Lauderdale, Police Chief Franklin Adderley said he is aware of the planned demonstration and expect it to be peaceful. Broward Sheriff Scott Israel said his deputies stand ready to help.
“We will be there,” Israel told reporters. “I’ve assured Chief Adderley that we will be there to help and support if called upon to do so.”
The bottom line for Black Lives Matter: they want to see an end to police violence against blacks and work done to create economic opportunity for the poor.
They also want police officers to be more present in their neighborhoods.
“The police officers need to know the community that they’re policing,” said Dream Defenders member Alexis Hyatt. “They need to be out here, engaging with the community, attending the events, talking to the community, building a relationship with the community so that they don’t feel like they’re at war with the community.”
Black Lives Matter protestors say they have taken security precautions in advance of Saturday’s event and they plan to remind people throughout the rally to be peaceful and be vigilant for any signs of violence or disruption.