More than 1,000 Katy residents of all ages, races, and genders came together to honor Houston-native George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis, Minn. police custody May 25, and call out what they called …
More than 1,000 Katy residents of all ages, races, and genders came together to honor Houston-native George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis, Minn. police custody May 25, and call out what they called systemic racism in the U.S.
Hosted by three Katy ISD students, the event consisted of a march around Katy Park and concluded with a list of guest speakers from all over the area and a few from out of state. The march was accompanied by chants such as “Black Lives Matter” and “Hands up, don’t shoot” in addition to Floyd’s name and names of other recent police shooting victims such as Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.
Foyin Dosunmu, one of the three organizers of the protest which included a march around the park which began and ended at the park’s pavilion, spoke about the stereotypes she feels are assigned to black people.
“As I get older, I begin to question who taught me to hate the texture of my hair. Who told me my nose was too big. Who told me my skin was too dark - my voice too loud,” Dosunmu said. “My momma always told me black was beautiful but how could I believe black was beautiful when the things that set me apart from my white peers made me look like an outcast.”
Originally set for the Mary Jo Peckham Park, the protest was moved to Katy Park after the City of Katy Police Chief Noe Diaz stepped in to aid the students in accommodating the crowd size that was expected and connecting them to adults who would support them.
Following the conclusion of the march, guest speakers and several students shared a stage in opening up about their experiences with racism.
Twins Sydney and Ethan Hart, students at Cinco Ranch High School, gave a joint speech sharing their thoughts on the black experience in Katy. Their audience, which included dozens of Katy-area youth cheered in agreement with their statements.
“I’ve heard it said that children are the future. Does it not count for people like me? At what age do I go from being an innocent child to being a threat? Maybe it’s at 17 for walking to my house with a hoodie on. Or maybe it’s at 12 for playing with a toy gun. Or maybe it’s even before I had a chance to defend myself in my mother’s womb,” Sydney Hart said.
A young woman named Hope shared her experiences as well.
“In just the third grade, I was called the N-word and spat on, on a bus ride home from school. And from there, I was instantly aware - I was other from my peers,” she said. “In 2012, I witnessed Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old boy die. Being informed about something like that at such a young age really took a toll on me. And I remember asking my mom, why was he shot? What did he do? Why him?”
Guest speakers such as Fort Bend County District Attorney Brian Middleton shared what it feels like to be black in America and that despite his successful professional career, he still has to face racism in his everyday life.
“No longer are we denying or doubting that there’s police brutality. No longer are we denying that there’s a disparity in criminal justice, a racial disparity in America,” Middleton said to a crowd of gatherers. “Although I don’t have any physical scars, I’ve got a lot of emotional scars from the racism that I’ve had to face.”
Hope Martin, Fort Bend County commissioner candidate for Precinct 3, spoke in support of the event’s message. Although she served eight years in the U.S. Air Force, Martin said she isn’t seen as a veteran by the community, only as a black woman.
“I want to commend you as young people because I know you all are the key to making a change in the world,” Martin said. “We need to get rid of the stereotypes. We are humans. We are human beings. We want to be treated just like everyone else.”
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, who was just sworn in as an appointee to the office June 1, shared personal stories he had with his father when discussing race. His father, whose name is George, is from Houston’s Third Ward and attended Jack Yates High School where George Floyd lived and attended school. Hollins’ father is also a police officer.
“As a police officer and as a black man, it pained (my father) to have to tell me how to act when I interacted with police. Because in his job, in his role, he had seen the realities,” Hollins said. “That was ingrained in me and I didn’t even know that was a bad thing as a young child.”
According to Mapping Police Violence, police killed 1,099 people in 2019. Of those killed, black people made up 24% despite being only 13% of the population. The same data shows black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white people.
Other official attendees included Katy Mayor Bill Hastings and Texas House Representative for District 132 Gina Calanni.
“Some parents say that the ‘I Can’t Breathe’ commercial is scaring their kids. Well, guess what? I’m scared too,” Ethan Hart said. “I haven’t been able to sleep because I’m scared I’m going to get killed while at home like Breonna Taylor. I’m scared that if I get pulled over, I might not see my family again like Philando Castile. I’m scared that the last minutes of my life will be painful and replayed for the whole world to see over and over and over and over again.”
Senior News Reporter R. Hans Miller and Sealy News Sports Reporter Cole McNanna contributed to this report. Make sure to check out our photo gallery.