BY JILL OSBORN
SPECIAL TO JONES & BLOUNT
WINSTON-SALEM – About 20 people showed up to support a Black Lives Matter event Saturday afternoon on Hanes Mall Boulevard and Stratford Road in Winston-Salem. Holding signs reading “Unite Against Hate, and “Honk 4 Justice,” the multiracial protest was publicized on Facebook in an effort to bring attention to the death of Travis Page.
Page, 31, was pepper-sprayed during a struggle with Winston-Salem police after officers responded to calls about a firearm discharge. Page became unresponsive after he was restrained and placed in handcuffs.
The four officers tried to revive Page but were unsuccessful in their attempts. The officers are now on administrative leave. Winston-Salem Police chief Barry Rountree said he is working with state agencies and the district attorney on the case.
Page’s mother, Ida, has admitted that Page had schizophrenia. She and others are demanding to see the police surveillance video that recorded the episode; the footage has yet to be released.
Page’s father, Darryl Williams, lives in Aurora, Colorado but attended the peaceful protest in support of his son.
“I am not against police. I am against the treatment of my son,” said Williams.
Kim Porter, one of the online organizers of the event, said she wants to fight for justice as well as reduce hate speech. She noted that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, delivers hateful messages on a regular basis and this group hopes to combat such disrespectful tones.
The protest was peaceful, although there was some discord.
While standing on the corner of the street and holding up a sign for the event, 20-year-old Hasseim Muhammad was yelled at by a driver. The passerby shouted these words in Muhammad’s direction, “All lives matter; you are the ones who are racist.”
Muhammad, who is studying acting at the North Carolina School of the Arts, politely smiled and shook his head from side to side in reply.
“Yes, all lives matter and Black Lives Matter means all lives matter,” Muhammad told the North State Journal. “For someone to say all lives matter, is like going to an AIDS or cancer rally and shouting, ‘All diseases matter.’”
The event organizer was hoping to get a lot of folk’s attention since traffic was congested during the weekend right before Christmas. The protest, however, was short-lived. It lasted for about 45 minutes, at which point people began to disperse. The holiday traffic continued steadily.