Ugonna Ezuma-Igwe | Managing Editor
We were able to talk to Ahunna Akpuda, a student at Fayetteville State University, who was able to attend the demonstrations in downtown Raleigh on May 30. The protest was to fight for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the many victims of police brutality. Ahunna talked about her experience at the protest and the thoughts and feelings that were provoked because of the protest.
NM: Why did you choose to participate?
AA: I chose to participate because I wanted to be a voice for the voiceless and because we are sick and tired, of being sick and tired of the countless murders of black people from the police. I chose to participate so I can tell my future kids that their mom was making history and for standing up for what she believes in.
NM: How long were you at the protest? Did you see how it began?
AA: I arrived at the protest around 4:30 and I left around 9 so about more than 3 hours. It began with everyone peacefully gathering up in front of the courthouse and the ABC11 news center. During this time, people used this opportunity to express how they were feeling, how we needed to fight back and even one particular protester came up and talked about one of her loved ones being a victim of police brutality.
NM: When did you leave?
AA: I left around 9. Once they started throwing the tear gas and the rubber bullets, I knew that the looting was going to start happening (as they should) downtown.
NM: Did you feel safe?
AA: Absolutely. Not once did I feel like I was in danger, everyone was there for each other and if anything happened to someone, people immediately rushed over to the protester to help. I can say there were many countless acts of love at the protest until the police disrupted it, of course.
NM: How did law enforcement engage with the crowd?
AA: They were very dull and didn’t really speak much. They were mostly there to protect themselves and to disrupt the peace more than anything. A white cop did tell me to have a “nice” night as I was walking to my car. I felt like that was a slap in the face because I was having a peaceful night until again, the tear gases started being used.
NM: Please describe anything you saw, in as much detail as possible:
AA: I saw waves of people from all different races, Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, etc. I saw a lot of young kids there as well, and I felt so proud of them because I knew they were physically being apart of history and they didn’t even know it. I remember us walking pretty much out of downtown heading onto Capital Blvd and there was a lady in a car and she was so emotional and I can tell that she was proud of us. I stopped walking and I went up to her car and held her hand and told her “I love you, we love you and I will fight for you”. That was one of the most touching moments in my life. As we were walking through downtown there were many moments where we walked through the streets filled with people in their cars. They were all beeping the horn and showing their support by holding up signs, even little ones were watching in awe from the powerful things that were happening around them. There were a lot of police enforcement in riot gear throwing tear gas from almost every direction in front of the convention center. Some of the tear gas bombs were in different colors to try and confuse us into thinking it was just a smoke bomb but it was really tear gas.
NM: Please describe any feelings provoked during the protest:
AA: Gosh, where do I even start. The feelings were so overwhelming, good and bad. I can definitely say I felt the love and respect of one another. Everyone looked out for one another with milk on standby, first aid kits, snacks and water along the way of us walking. Anger was also felt as we are all enraged by the countless murders of black people. I felt proud knowing that I was being part of history.
NM: You can add anything else that you feel is important or just want our readers to know?
AA: BLACK LIVES MATTER. We will not stop marching and fighting until justice is fully served. period.
This account of the protest on Saturday, May 30 shows that people are angry and frustrated with the way these murders have been handled. Ahunna Akpuda and many others have lived through an experience that they will remember for the rest of their life
Ahunna Akpuda marched for more than herself; she marched for those who weren’t able to, who have been silenced and who have been oppressed.