RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Kerwin Pittman is one of the organizers of the rallies and marches that have taken place in the Triangle since the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
The conversation started on the steps of the courthouse. It’s a place where, just months ago, a teargas-filled stand-off between police and protestors happened after vandalism peppered Fayetteville Street. The question was simple: What’s the message you’re trying to send when you’re out here peacefully protesting?
“The message we’re sending is we will not stop. We will continue to fight and advocate for change,” Pittman said. “We will continue to fight and advocate for those who can’t fight for themselves.”
Buildings were boarded up. There’s still a lot of controversy surrounding the protest and how it all played out. Pittman was apologetic but also focused on the mission at hand.
“It is a shame that these establishments may be vandalized. But, at what point, we must ask ourselves why are these individuals in the streets doing this?” Pittman said. “Property can be replaced. Lives cannot be replaced.
“What I mean by that is we should not put more on us or more value on a window than on Breonna Taylor’s life. This is what I want local officials and local leaders that are in positions of power to ask themselves. Why are these individuals doing this? Because it is a symptom of a cause of why they are doing it.”
Some say the message gets lost when a building is spray painted or if windows are broken.
“The message can never get muddied. We don’t advocate for vandalism,” Pittman said. “It’s a shame that it maybe it’s shattered. A window may be shattered, and somebody may have to pay for it. But the message is still the same: that Black Lives Matter. That we will still be out here, regardless, peacefully protesting.”
What might the other side not understand about Pittman’s movement?
“What they don’t understand — particularly those who are pushing back against change — is that it’s going to happen regardless. They’re holding onto old ideas, an old ideology, to keep people oppressed through the tactics of fear. They need to understand that this generation is not scared,” Pittman said.
“We must know and understand that protesting is just one arm of change. It’s just one extension of change. We’ve got to turn these protests into policy change within the political arena to get true relief.”
More Moving Forward stories:
- Moving Forward: UNC-Chapel Hill students enthusiasm for social justice
- Moving Forward: Conversation with poet laureate Jacki Shelton Green
- Moving Forward: Organizer Kerwin Pittman discusses peaceful protests in Triangle
- Moving Forward: Local attorney says change needs to happen within balance of law
- Moving Forward: Durham minister says city’s crime is ‘multi-faceted problem’ that needs ‘multi-faceted solution’
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