Following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Sarah Edwards wanted to show her support for black Americans across the country and to encourage others to take a stand against racism.
So, signs in hand and her daughters by her side, the Flower Mound mother of two went to Flower Mound’s busiest intersection at FM 2499 and FM 1171 on May 29 to spread the message.
What began as a three-person, three-day effort has turned into a large following that has lasted for days.
Floyd, who is black, died in police custody after Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, was captured on video kneeling against his neck for several minutes, not moving when Floyd said he could not breathe. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers at the scene are being facing aiding and abetting charges.
Edwards said the idea for the demonstration came to her after one of her daughters, who attends Forestwood Middle School, talked with her about the events surrounding Floyd’s death.
“She said, ‘That could have been one of my friends,’” Edwards said. “So that opened up the door for communication … to teach our children to be kind and to teach them about racism. I had a great opportunity to show them how to be leaders and to stand up for people when there’s injustice.”
Edwards said she posted an announcement about the peaceful protest on a Facebook page, but she said it was removed by the moderator.
Flower Mound resident Laura Haines heard about Edwards’ plan and agreed to share it in another Facebook group.
“I said, ‘I will join you,’” Haines said. “I’ll share it in another group, and it won’t be taken down. We got an overwhelming positive reaction.”
Haines said the number of people who showed up on the first day was more than expected. Even more surprising were those who showed up multiple times.
Haines said people of all ages have joined in throughout the week – including one woman in her 90s who participated from her wheelchair.
“People of every faith, people of no faith, stood next to each other,” Haines said.
Flower Mound police officers have attended these events as well, bringing bottled water to those lining the sidewalks and having conversations about the issues.
At times up to 70 people lined the sidewalk. The constant sound of horns from vehicles passing by showed that those on the sidewalks were not alone.
Flower Mound resident Jonah Pfeiffer has been a part of the event since it began. He said events like this are important not just because of what happened to Floyd but also other black residents at the hands of police officers.
“Sunday was supposed to be the last day, but people clearly want to keep doing this,” Pfeiffer said. “We’ve gotten tons of positive support. More than any negatives.”
Edwards said the event exceeded her expectations.
“This whole experience has been incredible,” Edwards said. “This has brought in so many people from so many different walks of life. The community needed a person to step up so they can stand up, too. It’s important to teach our children to fight for justice.”
The gathering was just one around Flower Mound and the surrounding area in recent days to show support for black Americans and to call for an end to racism.
Earlier in the week a group gathered at the intersection of FM 2499 and FM 3040, holding signs that read “Silence = Compliance” and “Racism is Real.”
The goal was to shine the light on racial injustice and to hold police accountable.
“It’s important, especially in a small town, to be united in our efforts to support black lives,” said Flower Mound resident Kierstin Ferland. “We’re hoping that after people see us that they will educate themselves on what’s going on and will go find resources so that they can help.”
Tuesday night in Highland Village, a group of between 150-200 people gathered at the Shops at Highland Village for a peaceful protest.
The group affiliated itself with the Black Lives Matter organization.
There was extra police presence at the site, but there were no incidents, said city spokeswoman Laurie Mullens.
“We appreciate the community recognition that our department condemns the actions that led to the death of George Floyd as we continue our prayers for the Floyd family and our nation,” the city said in a release. “As a city, we will continue to support peaceful rallies and as such recommend that they do not organize to compete against each other.”