Recent high school graduates lead peaceful “Black Lives Matter” march in Greenville

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The Ladies of Liberty, a group of six young women, organized a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” march in Greenville to voice the female perspective on the recent killings of black men and women by police.

The shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castillo by police just 24 hours apart in two separate states sparked the recent Pitt County high school graduates to exercise their freedom of speech.

“We’re overshadowed a lot and black women aren’t always heard so we feel like we should be standing up,” said Shayla Lee who is headed to college in the fall. “We’re tired of seeing all the injustices going on in the world and we just wanted to band together and show that we do see what’s going on and we’re not going to stand for it.”

The ladies, all childhood friends, led a contingent of classmates, community members, teachers, local activists and Greenville Police Department officers through the streets of Uptown from Five Points Plaza to the steps of the Pitt County Courthouse while reciting chants like, “No justice, no peace” as well as the names of those who they feel have died unjustly due to police brutality.

“I feel like many people don’t recognize that there is a problem so the first step to fixing the problem is making people aware,” explained Tyla Gomez who distinguished the difference between anti-police and anti-police brutality. “Do some research and find out that this is a legitimate cause and we have a legitimate problem that needs solving.”

The Ladies of Liberty also touched on the contentious dispute over the hashtags, #BlackLivesMatter versus #AllLivesMatter. To differentiate the two, the ladies offered the metaphor of a house on fire. They say you don’t water the entire neighborhood, but you focus on the pressing issue of the burning home instead.

“Please educate yourself before saying “All Lives Matter,” because it’s an implied “too” [at the end of “Black Lives Matter,”] reasoned Gomez.

At the courthouse, several speakers addressed those who gathered through spoken word and calls to action. The group concluded the rally with a moment of silence for the victims of recent controversial and highly debated police-involved shootings around the country before marching back to Five Points.

The Ladies of Liberty exemplify their motto, “We are women and we follow through.”

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