Community comes together in historic rally

The world watched as George Floyd slowly lost his life as a Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck. It struck a chord in the United States as U.S. citizens and residents left their homes to protest the death of Floyd. As protests, riots, and looters crowded streets, law enforcement in some parts of the country reacted with force. In Monticello, a young girl was moved by the scenes she saw and knew she had to do something.
“People are still asking the question ‘Why, La Darian, why are you doing this?’ When I saw the results of the police brutality of George Floyd something triggered in my heart and I said then, it was time to stand up and be a leader,” La Darian Pace, the young girl who helped plan and lead the prayer rally after realizing she had to do something.
What resulted was a community, together in its grief and sorrow, coming together and making history as they marched from the Southeast Arkansas Regional Library Monticello Branch, 114 West Jackson Avenue, down Main Street, where they stopped at the square for a prayer rally. The rally was the first of its kind in Drew County. The participants were led from the library to the square by Monticello Police Chief Jason Akers and Alderman Al Peer. The group marched down the streets as Pace led the group in chants of “I can’t breathe” and “When I say black lives you say matter. Black lives. Matter.” 
According to Dr. Marcus Allen, pastor of True Covenant Church, located on Main Street, the prayer rally was a rally to send the message that the Monticello Community is one of togetherness.
“The purpose of the rally is to come together and mend the bridge that divides black and blue,” said Allen. “I’m not saying that Drew County and Monticello have a problem, we don’t.”
“We are trying to keep our message that we are good and we are together,” he continued.
During the rally, community leaders referred to Pace and her generation as the leaders of tomorrow. 
“I admit, I don’t know where being a leader is going to take me,” said Pace. “But I have my own personal commitment to walk out on faith. The injustices we experience in the world and in our own community. We have experienced racial profiling, we have experienced differences in the education system and it is time to take a stand.”
Allen expressed hope in the next generation of leaders, saying this generation will not take racism and injustice sitting down. 
“We are not trying to start a riot but we are trying to make a difference in a permanent way,” Pace said in her address to the crowd.  “My peers and myself want to show you tonight, we hurt for one another, we stand with one another and as a new generation of leaders we are open to learning what it is all about. Thank you again and my black life matters.”
Akers assured the crowd that the Monticello Police Department stands together with them.
“When we say this is the Monticello Police Department, that is wrong, it is your Monticello Police Department,” said Akers while he addressed the crowd. “Before I am a police chief, I am a father and even before that I am a husband. So when you think you have no one to talk to, now you have no excuse because there is my office. Understand that when you talk to me you are going to talk to a father and a husband.”
“My mentor (Moses Goldman) is standing right there,” continued Akers.  “You want to know where I go to when I need advice, it’s him. I don’t have a father, I call Al Peer my Pops because I don’t have one. It doesn’t matter if you are black, it doesn’t matter if you are white, wisdom is wisdom. Get it where you can get it. We have a heart problem in America and it isn’t from eating red meat. It’s evil. If there is anything I can do for you or anything my officers can do for you, call us.”
On Tuesday evening, local law enforcement stood by the community as the community raised its voice against racism, against police brutality and against a system that shows prejudice. 

The Advance-Monticellonian

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Monticello, AR 71657

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Monticello, AR 71655

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