NewsPalm Beach CountyRegion C Palm Beach CountyRiviera Beach


Peaceful protest in Riviera Beach urges unity and equality

'It's time for us to really come together now,' Mayor Ronnie Felder says
A peaceful protest was held June 11, 2020, in Riviera Beach, Florida.
Health leaders and community organizers are among the people who helped plan a peaceful protest on June 11, 2020 in Riviera Beach.
Posted at 10:53 AM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 19:36:33-04

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Several black organizations, health professionals, fraternities and sororities came together Thursday for a peaceful protest in Riviera Beach to raise awareness about racial inequality.

The event, which includes about 50 organizations, began shortly before 5:30 p.m. at the Riviera Beach City Hall.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: America in Crisis

A flyer for the protest asked the public to "join us as we stand and march in the name of social justice."

The demonstration occurred in the areas of 600 W Blue Heron Boulevard, east on Blue Heron to Broadway, and north on Broadway to 30th Street.

Organizers said they worked with the police department to ensure the event stays peaceful. They have also brought extra personal protective equipment for demonstrators to use.

Ahead of the event, Mayor Ronnie Felder said they are holding the Thursday demonstration to show they are part of the change and support the people's effort to bring justice to a system that has been broken for years.

"As I look around at the whole world, who are fighting for Black Lives Matter, and I really think we don’t want to miss this opportunity to come together as black people," said Felder. "We have a whole world, whole countries and nations that are fighting for us. It's time for us to really come together now."

Felder said he has been extremely encouraged in the last few weeks as people from a variety of backgrounds have come together to support change.

However, the mayor said a message of unity and equality is something the African American community has to start practicing within its neighborhood.

"People bring up black-on-black crime … why is there black-on-black crime? Well, systematically we’ve been brainwashed to be against each other, but we can deal with that later. Right now, let's put that aside and say if we get our injustices dealt with, we can go back and correct the black-on-black crime because it's bigger than black-on-black crime," said Felder.

The video of Floyd’s death has caused outrage and a call for substantial change.

"George Floyd cried out for his mother, and I think that every mother, in the country, in the world, heard him, and that’s why we’re here today,” said Dr. Tiffany McCalla Bottorff, who is attending the protest.

Bottorff is an emergency room doctor in Palm Beach County who worked with her colleagues in the medical field to organize the Riviera Beach event. She wants her voice to be heard and wants a better world for her sons.

"I have two young boys. I have a 2-year-old and a 7-year-old … they’re my babies," said Bottorff. They're perfect, you know, but I recognize that the world looks at them now as cute. But as they get older, they become something different."

This is the latest of several protests that have already been held in Palm Beach County this week, including in West Boca Raton, Jupiter and Wellington.

MORE: 19-year-old organizer helping lead protests in Palm Beach Co.

The death of George Floyd on May 25, and the subsequent arrest of four Minneapolis police officers, have set off protests across the U.S.

Earlier this week, a judge set a $1.25 million bail for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin charged with second-degree murder in Floyd's death.

Thomas Lane, one of the four former Minneapolis officers arrested, posted bail on Wednesday according to jail records.

Floyd was buried Tuesday in Pearland, Texas, following a private funeral.