change the ref protest black lives matter

By Selene Raj

As rallies and protests are held around the nation in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and systemic racism, they continue in Parkland as well.

The protest is organized by Change the Ref,  a nonprofit created in honor of Joaquin Oliver by his parents Manuel and Patricia, which focuses on empowering youth and gun safety. This time, they’re hoping to unite Parkland with the Black Lives Matter movement.

“When our community needed support, we received it from the world,” said organizer and MSD graduate, Taylor Morales. “Now it’s our turn to join together, protest inequality, and give back.”

While the goal of the protest is to support the Black Lives Matter movement, Morales knows the movement has faced detractors and critics and is urging residents to remember how many people stood behind Parkland when they were in need.

“I encourage people to remember that Parkland Strong didn’t mean that all other cities weren’t as important, it’s the same concept with Black Lives Matter,” said Morales.

Like Change the Ref, the Black Lives Matter movement began after a major event catalyzed the need for social justice. In this case, it started after George Zimmerman, who killed a Black, unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, was acquitted.

Since then, the BLM movement has sought to eradicate white supremacy, fight against the violence inflicted upon the Black community, and empower people to do so.

The Parkland protest aims to highlight these causes, as well as spread awareness about systemic racism and the need for change.

Morales said they would showcase Black voices, activists, students, and speakers with slam poetry, artwork, and speeches.

Along with Morales, three other hosts have organized the event, including Joaquin’s mother, Patricia, and two other MSD graduates, Hannah Karcinell and Amit Dadon. Masks and social distancing will be required to partake in the event. There will be a limited quantity of masks provided by Change the Ref.

The protest will take place on Saturday, July 11, starting at 3:00 p.m., where participants will meet at the garden in front of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, located on the corner of Holmberg Road and Coral Springs Drive. They will march to the Pine Trails Park amphitheater, where the rally will take place. For more information, visit the event page.

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