LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Peaceful protestors took over the steps of Little Rock City Hall Saturday to demonstrate after the deaths of Daunte Wright and Adam Toledo.
"I won't read all the names cause there's so many names," a woman speaking to the crowd of 60 plus, said. "How many names have been, how many bodies are in the ground now, and we don't even know their names?"
It's a sight we've seen a lot over the past year in the wake of the death of George Floyd. It's a sight that Little Rock Pastor and Judge Wendell L. Griffen has seen all to many times.
"Dr. King was out here, Malcom X was out here, the Black Panthers were out here," he said. "Stop talking about a few bad apples. A system that produces bad apples is a bad system."
Little Rock Police set up barricades on the stretch of West Markham in front of City Hall for the crowds. A speaker said they had a permit for today's event.
Griffen says to see this continue over and over again isn't just heartbreaking – it's horrible.
"It's one thing if this was something that couldn't be prevented, this is not an act of God," he said. "This is a human problem."
And human emotions were on display today. Many of the speakers spoke empathetically on the recent deaths.
One man in the crowd, Ryan Davis, says those emotions are what drive him to keep coming out.
My faith compels me to continue to be hopeful," Davis said. "But my reality compels me to use my rage in constructive ways."
After decades of protests like this, it's hard not to feel tired. It's the same issue, just different faces.
"Justice dies under the cover of darkness, and I'm glad that folks are bringing these issues to light," Davis said.
Over the past year, we've learned there is no easy answer to these incredibly difficult questions.
But there's places to start.
"Ways that we can convince folks in positions of power that we have a coalition of people who want these same particular things," Davis said. "We can move the conversation past committees and study groups and focus groups and we can get some real results."
It's a thought echoed by Griffen.
"You knock the wall down, and you begin to build a new wall, straight," he said. "You cannot fix a crooked wall by building it."
In attendance today were multiple people armed with both handguns and rifles. Some were security for the demonstrators, while others were pointed out as possible counter protesters.
Saturday's event remained peaceful the entire time people were out.