'Your silence is not helping': Community activist calls on people to speak out against racism
HALIFAX -- Hundreds of Nova Scotians took to the streets of Halifax on Saturday in a peaceful protest against racial violence.
Protests began last week in cities across the United States and the world after George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
A bystander captured video of a white police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes, while Floyd cries that he can’t breathe.
The four officers involved in Floyd’s arrest have been fired and one officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Quentrel Provo is a community activist in the Halifax area and founder of Stop the Violence. He is calling for change.
“Every couple of months this is happening, you know. It’s very frustrating, very upsetting that we’re protesting every time just to get a charge or get someone arrested,” says Provo.
“It’s crazy because the officer was arrested, but there are still three other officers that partook in what happened and they are still not arrested. So we’re not going to stop until all four are in custody.”
Provo took to social media on Thursday to encourage white people to stand up against racism.
“I wrote a post called ‘Dear White People’ and it’s not to blame y’all, it’s just basically to say we need your voice of privilege right now. They are not listening to us. They haven’t been listening to us for decades,” says Provo.
“So those people that are in those places, those good cops that we have, we need to hear your voice and we need you to speak up for things to change. Those lawmakers, those politicians, we need to hear your voice and we need you to do work behind the scenes, not just speak up on these issues, not just make it seem like you are there to support. We need you to do the work so things can change.”
For those that are hesitant to speak out, for fear of saying the wrong thing, Provo says there is no wrong way of saying that what is going on is not right.
“We understand that you can’t put yourself in our shoes. We understand that, we know that. Speak out. Say that it is wrong. Say that you don’t support it, you don’t condone what’s happening and speak out that way… Basically, we need you to speak out, because your silence is not helping,” he says.
“We know there is good police officers, I have some friends that are police officers, but by being silent on things that are happening like this, we don’t know what your side is, what your voice is, so speak out and share that. Reach out to your people in your circle that are black and tell them like, ‘Yo, I’m standing with you, I’m here.’ We need anything right now.”
Provo has a nine-year-old son and says he struggles with how to teach his son how to stay safe from the people that are there to protect and serve.
“You know, we had a protest on Saturday and the kids that were there, you know, really young kids, you had eight-year-olds and how do you explain it to them? But it was so powerful to see those young kids out there standing like, ‘yo, my life matters’ and while those people react and say ‘well, all lives matter,’ all lives can’t matter if the black lives don’t matter currently.”
There is one basic message Provo says he wants people to understand.
“This needs to stop. We need to stand up. Everyone of all races, we need to come together, and we need to put an end to this. Black people have been dealing with this for decades. We’ve supposedly come a long way since Martin Luther King, but we are still dealing with the same issues from back in the day. Let’s stand up and let’s get through this together.”