Protests against police and racism spread across Mississippi

JACKSON, USA (AP) – Thousands of people protested police brutality and racial injustice in the Mississippi capital on Saturday, one of a series of protests across the state.

Hundreds also gathered in Starkville and Gulfport, while protesters continued to call for the resignation of petal mayor Hal Marx because of comments he made about George Floyd's death. In Oxford, the athletic department at the University of Mississippi held a private event.

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In Jackson, protesters spoke outside the governor's mansion, one of hundreds of demonstrations organized across the country after Floyd's death in Minneapolis and others who died at the hands of the police.

“When Mississippi changes, America changes. When America changes, the world changes. And we are about to move forward, ”organizer Calvert White told the crowd, according to Clarion Ledger.

Among those present were Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba and US Democratic Senate candidate Mike Espy.

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The march passed through Jackson City Hall and the state capital. The protesters were silent for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time when an officer knelt on Floyd's neck.

One requirement that received the highest applause was the removal of all Confederate symbols, including the battle emblem of the state flag, which flew in the governor's mansion and in the state capital on Saturday.

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Protesters also demanded that prosecutors reopen the case of Ricky Ball, a black man shot by police in Columbus in 2015. Republican Attorney General Lynn Fitch denied the charges last week. They are also seeking the resignation of petal mayor Hal Marx, who ruled out Floyd's death on social media by writing in part "if you can talk, you can breathe". Marx apologized, but rejected resignations, including those made by councilors. Another in a series of protests was held on Saturday in Petal.

In Starkville, a line of hundreds marched down Main Street. Organizer Jala Douglas told Starkville Daily News that she was impressed with the participation.

"A lot more people than I expected, this is beautiful," she said.

In Gulfport, people attended a unity rally that included ministers, city officials and Gulfport police chief Leonard Papania.

Marcus and Denise Whitfield said they brought their young son, Caiden, to support unity and change, but also to support policemen who respect those in the community.

"We want to show unity among ourselves, not just to support the fight for justice for black lives, but for all the lives that matter," Marcus Whitfield told the Sun Herald. "Yes, we are here fighting for our black lives, but also for all lives."

"We are paying attention to black boys now, because this is the house that is burning," he said. "I think if blacks knew that a fair justice would be served, you would not be seeing the riots and protests that have reached a boiling point in some communities."

Ole Miss's athletics department told Oxford Eagle that it held its private event for fear of spreading COVID-19 respiratory disease.

"Today, we met here to put a point on the justice scoreboard," said women's basketball coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin. “Today, we gather here in honor of those who seek freedom in the past, in solidarity with those who seek justice in the present. Today, we gather here to say without excuses that black lives are important. "

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