Lockhart resident organizes local peaceful protest
By Wesley Gardner
Update: As of Wednesday afternoon, third-degree murder charges filed against Officer Derek Chauvin have been upgraded to second-degree murder.
Lifelong Lockhart resident Margaret Carter is staging a peaceful protest on June 13 aimed at highlighting the social injustices once again brought to the forefront of the nation after the officer involved killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.
Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter after footage emerged of him pinning his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, several of which occurred after Floyd was already unconscious.
Protests have sprung up in major cities throughout the nation in the wake of Floyd’s death, and while most have been peaceful during the day, many have turned violent come nightfall, sometimes resulting in looting and deaths.
Carter, who was born and raised in Lockhart, said she’s organizing the peaceful protest to raise awareness of injustice and build trust between the community and police officers.
“I just want to bring awareness to injustice that has taken place in our country,” said Carter. “I want to allow our police officials an opportunity to make everybody comfortable, answer any questions the community may have and secure the peace and safety of our lovely community.”
Carter noted that recent footage of protests that have turned violent helped spark her decision to stage the protest.
“I believe in peaceful protests,” said Carter. “I’m non-violent.
“I don’t think violence is the answer. I would like Lockhart to be one of those examples across the nation that we can voice our opinion and still respect each other and each other’s property.
We don’t want to divert to the attention off of the injustice. Injustice to one is injustice to all of us. That’s where I stand.”
Carter said the permit for the route the protest will follow is currently under review by the city, but noted that tentatively, the protest will begin at 10 a.m. in front of the Caldwell County Courthouse. From there, she said protesters would follow the route used during the MLK March, ending up in front of the Caldwell County Justice Center.
Carter said she wanted to give a special shout-out to those who helped her organize the event, including Shanice Manning, Joe Rollins, Monica Rollins and Katherine Bliss.
Lockhart Police Chief Ernesto Pedraza addressed Floyd’s death at the beginning of Tuesday’s Lockhart City Council meeting and said his deparment would help ensure the planned protest goes smoothly.
“George Floyd, I don’t think there’s a person in the United States who was not appalled by what they saw,” said Pedraza. “The protestors, the legitimate protestors, they do have some concerns and some issues that need to be addresses throughout the country.
“Violence is not the way to address those issues. The Lockhart Police Department is very aware of those issues and we’ve made progress in changing policies at the police department to make sure we hold officers accountable, we hold the supervisors accountable and that supervisors hold the officers accountable in regards to biased policing, in regards to response to resistance.
I want to ensure the community that the Lockhart Police Department is continuing to build trust, because that is the fundamental core issue to have a good community and a good police department.”
Lockhart District 2 Councilmember David Bryant said that the community should take this opportunity to find solutions to the issues the nation is facing.
“We’re all grieving,” said Bryant. “We witnessed a trauma as a nation, as a community.
“We saw something and we’re all processing that in our own ways. Many of our citizens have experienced ongoing trauma that dates back to a long time ago. With that said, I ask that we look toward solutions and conversations. I know we’re hurting, but I want to make sure we’re looking toward solutions. As a black man, it’s a challenge seeing everything that’s going on, but at the same time, we need to look toward solutions and healing and checking on one another to see how we’re doing, because we’re all facing challenges at this time.”