AMHERST, Va. – A peaceful protest for civil rights popped up in Amherst Saturday evening.
Amherst’s NAACP chapter organized the “March for Liberty and Justice For All,” which started at town hall and traveled to the Route 60 intersection. A crowd of approximately a hundred people showed up.
“No lives matter if Black lives can’t matter, and we have to say Black lives,” said Amherst NAACP President Gloria Witt.
“We can not wait on a hero to stand up and save us,” said Pastor Bryan Moss of New Praise Temple of Deliverance, who addressed the crowd during the event.
The marchers braved temperatures in the mid to high-90s during their demonstration. The crowd included demonstrators of all ages, including 14-year-old Amherst native Zanaisha Watkins.
“This is my first protest, actually,” Watkins said. “They don’t think about us as a young voice. Some say, ‘oh, you’re so young, you don’t need to be heard.’”
Before the march, county leaders explained what steps they have taken for equality.
“Since May, we’ve had over 600 hours of police reform and de-escalation techniques,” said Amherst County Sheriff E.W. Viar.
“It’s hard for us police officers who are out here doing what we’re supposed to be doing and doing it correctly to see things happening that aren’t right,” said Amherst Police Chief Robert Shifflett.
Watkins said the march motivated her to keep using her voice for change.
“As young people, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do what you can’t do,” Watkins said. “I will always let my voice be heard.”