The protest was in response to the killing of George Floyd. Three Palm Coast stores closed out of an abundance of caution, but the protests were peaceful.
Story by Brian McMillan and Jonathan Simmons
Updated 3:50 p.m. June 3
More than 100 protesters walked Palm Coast Parkway and Belle Terre Parkway the afternoon of June 3, shouting "Hands up, don't shoot" and "No justice, no peace," and chanting the name of George Floyd, the black man whose killing at the hands of a white policeman in Minneapolis has incited protests across the country.
Drivers honked in solidarity as protestors streamed across a crosswalk on Belle Terre Parkway, cheering back at them and holding aloft handwritten signs: "Black Lives Matter" "We need change, my son's life matters!" "Join us, let's be heard," "End police brutality!" "Stop killing us!"
Deputies on motorcycles along the protest route provided traffic control at intersections.
The protest led to the temporary closure of the three local stores —Walmart, Bealls and Kohl's — according to a June 3 Facebook post by the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.
The FCSO had announced on Facebook the previous day that protests were being planned for 1 p.m. June 3 and that the FSCO would be there to maintain safety. (A protest at Veterans Park is planned for 5 p.m. June 3, as well.)
Walmart planned to reopen at 3 p.m., according to Brittany Kershaw, public affairs manager for the FCSO.
Voices from the Palm Coast Parkway protest:
As the crowd gathered outside the Kohls on Palm Coast Parkway after the march, Pastor Sims Jones, of People Helping People and God's Love Ministries, led the crowed as it chanted, "We are one!"
"Nobody — nobody will divide us any more," he said. "Nobody will separate us any more. We are one!"
Jones, who is running for the District 1 Palm Coast City Council seat, added, "Just like I’m running for office, you all should be running for office ... if I can run, you can run."
The crowd sang, "We shall overcome."
Enosch Henry, a 20-year-old Flagler Palm Coast High School graduate who now lives in Orlando, said he liked seeing Palm Coast come together.
"I like to see everybody come out and be united, especially in Palm Coast," he said. "It’s a good turnout. The last time I saw this amount of people here was at the memorial for Curtis Gray ... It (Palm Coast) is really like a little mini-melting pot; it gives you hope. ... It was peaceful. Police are still supporting us. ... Everyone’s really just showing support."
Dr. Andre Darby, a Palm Coast resident, said he'd heard about the Palm COast protest while he was taking part in a protest in Daytona Beach. The Palm Coast protest, he said, was, "Peaceful, united — just a great togetherness, a great demonstration of everyone coming together to represent the memory of a very untimely death ... of George Floyd."
Darby said he is working on a documentary called "Beneath the Skin," on racism as a learned behavior. He appreciated that the protest was nonviolent.
Danielle Shoup, of Palm Coast, attended the protest with her children after hearing about it on social media and news stations.
"What was great about this one (protest), though, the police marched with us and supported it," she said. "And it really was a better turnout than I thought it would be. There was only a few haters on the side, and it was very peaceful. I loved it — hopefully it will bring change and light to what’s going on."
She said she didn't take her children to protests in larger nearby cities, to keep them safe. The protest in Palm Coast was "nice," she said.
"It was nice for the kids to see," she said. "They’re making history and all of them are mixed, so they understand it from both sides. ... I hope that it brings light to the current situation and it does bring change, where everyone is treated equally and everyone gets the same rights."
The FCSO's June 2 Facebook post said the following: