Black Lives Matter Rally and Community Circle Taking Place This Weekend in Fort Lauderdale

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To put it mildly, it’s been a bad week.

On Tuesday night, Alton Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five, was fatally shot by police officers in a Baton Rouge parking lot where he’d been selling CDs.

Then on Wednesday night, Philando Castile, 32, was shot by a police officer in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, as his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter watched. He had been pulled over for a broken taillight.

Both men were black.

Then there was the police shooting in Dallas. Our collective stomach hurts. 

“I’ve felt at times very weak, at times very confused, not really understanding what was going on,” Tifanny Burks, an activist with Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward, said. “The videos I’ve been watching over the past couple of days have left me completely stunned, at a complete loss to describe my emotions and words.”

To show solidarity and support with the families and friends of both Sterling and Castile, she and others from Black Lives Matter Alliance Broward will hold a peaceful rally on Saturday at Stranahan Park in Fort Lauderdale starting at 3 p.m. Burks says at least 200 to 300 people are expected. Folks are encouraged to bring water, snacks, sunscreen, and bug spray, and to dress appropriately for the heat.

On Sunday, the group will host a community circle at the Megaphone in Fort Lauderdale at 7 p.m. “It’s an opportunity for people to voice and verbalize how they feel — their anger, their frustration,” Burks explains. Mental health professionals will be available to speak with anyone who needs help coping with the recent news.

Though both gatherings were prompted by the recent shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota, Burks says they’re also intended as a way to remember two tragedies that took place close to home. In 2013, Jermaine McBean was shot and killed in Oakland Park by an officer who saw him walking down the side of the road with an air rifle.

Then, in May, Michael Eugene Wilson was shot and killed by police in Hallandale Beach after he was seen allegedly breaking into a car.

“A lot of times people think these issues are happening around the world, but it couldn’t happen in their community,” Burks said. “It happens down here, even in South Florida.”

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