Hundreds march in Cornwall Black Lives Matter protest

Protesters march up Cumberland Street in Cornwall, Ont. on Saturday, June 6, 2020 during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in honour of George Floyd. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – Around 1,300 people marched through the streets of Cornwall Saturday afternoon as part of a Black Lives Matter protest.

Mayor Bernadette Clement was emotional as she addressed the crowd outside the Justice Building on Pitt Street before the march began.

“Eight minutes and forty-six seconds…the words we heard…were ‘I can’t breathe’. The words we heard were from bystanders as well begging for George Floyd’s life. The powerlessness in those eight minutes and forty-six seconds was heartbreaking and speaks to larger issues of racism,” Clement said.

She said the “hopeful” demonstration here and others across the world show that we – not just black people – don’t want to be bystanders anymore and “be part of the solution.”

While conceding that the protest was “not safe necessarily” from a public health perspective during the coronavirus outbreak, she wanted to be there because “for me, it’s personal.”

The procession went down Pitt Street, west on Water Street, north on Cumberland Street, east on Ninth Street and back on Pitt Street to city hall. Police officers were out along the route to keep order. At the intersection of Cumberland and Seventh Street, several officers moved in to shield the demonstrators from a religious fanatic on a bullhorn, which was agitating the crowd. The demonstrators were booing him.

The anti-racism demonstration was among many taking place across Canada and North America following a video that showed a white Minneapolis, Minn. police officer kneeling on the neck of a black man – George Floyd – who died.

Click on a thumbnail below to open a gallery of pictures from the march.