Ormond Neighbors United continue their fight for equality

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Although last summer’s protest season across the United States dates back over a year, a group from Ormond Beach continues to hold weekly peaceful protests to fight injustice and racial inequality.

“We have been part of the movement since June 3 last year,” said Jennifer Howard, member of Ormond Neighbors United. “We are here for voter rights, Black Lives Matter, civil rights issues and, most recently, the application of masks. We want the warrants back because our children are not safe. “

The group meets every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6.30 p.m.

The 44-year-old Daytona Beach resident said the group had started to report to the base of the Granada Bridge at the southeast corner of Granada Boulevard. and Beach Street in Ormond Beach in 2020 last year. Howard said the group was advocating a peaceful, non-partisan protest.

“Just because ‘Black Lives Matter’ is out of fashion doesn’t mean it’s not important,” Howard said. “Last summer it was trending because something awful happened. So everyone was excited.

We get yelled at ‘All Lives Matter’ all the time, ”Howard continued. “If all lives really matter, then get vaccinated and wear a mask. ”

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Protests last summer followed the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white Minneapolis policeman pressed a knee to his neck on May 25, 2020. Former policeman Derek Chauvin of Minneapolis, was convicted of The Murder of Floyd on June 25 of this year.

While Howard emphasizes that their protests are peaceful, she acknowledged that anyone who drives next to them does not welcome their efforts or the messages on their signs.

“People are shouting obscenities, ‘You are a Communist,’ sometimes things are thrown at us,” Howard said. “I plan to be here until I feel Ormond Beach has opened his eyes. We chose this location because it is a public area. We do not obstruct traffic. And it is a safe place.

Jenifer Howard, right, and Janet Grill, retired ELCA Church of America pastor, wave to traffic Wednesday, September 8, 2021 as they protest racial injustice on the Granada Bridge in Ormond Beach.

Howard said raising awareness of some of the election laws passed this year by the Florida legislature is also important to the group.

“Winning back ‘Soul Sunday’ is a big thing I have to face,” she said. “They changed the rules for voter registration and early voting. From now on, churches can no longer make the caravans that have brought many elderly voters to the polls. “Soul Sunday” was amazing, especially in the black community. “

Howard was referring to an annual event during election years where churches historically worked to engage voters in the black community.

Florida Governor DeSantis enacted new election legislation on May 6 that places restrictions on ballot boxes and the ability of residents to vote by mail.

Jenifer Howard, right, and Janet Grill, retired ELCA Church of America pastor, wave to traffic Wednesday, September 8, 2021 as they protest racial injustice on the Granada Bridge in Ormond Beach.

DeSantis signed SB90, which, among other changes to election laws, also limits what can be given to potential voters queuing up to vote, including food, water or election materials. Items cannot be distributed to voters within 150 feet of a ballot box, and only volunteers or staff working with a county’s election supervisor can “provide non-partisan assistance” to voters in that area.

Howard is hoping the group’s post will attract more people and said everyone is welcome to join them.

“We would like to see more people, but we understand work schedules and things like that,” she said.

As the group invites everyone to participate, Howard asks all participants to be positive and project an inclusive message, wear a mask and socially distance yourself, keep the gathering non-partisan and respect the city of ‘Ormond Beach and the Ormond Beach Police Department.

Jennifer Howard put up one of her placards on a recent Wednesday for a peaceful protest at the foot of the Grenada Bridge in Ormond Beach.

Karen Pillar, 68, a resident of Ormond-by-the-Sea, stood alongside Howard on the Granada Bridge on a recent Wednesday evening.

“When George Floyd was killed, that’s when I really became aware of the movement,” Pillar said. “You watch this over and over again and you can’t help but be moved by it. Since the trial, we have received a lot more positive responses from people, which is a good thing. There is a very small group of people who are just filled with hate.

Pillar said there were other people in the group who support the many causes that the group has championed.

“I think it’s important to talk to your neighbors about what’s going on,” she said. “I am very vocal. I think people are fed up with injustices. We have to make the necessary changes in society.

Ormond Neighbors United meets from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. every Wednesday at the base of the Granada Bridge, on the southeast corner of Granada Boulevard and Beach Street in Ormond Beach. For more information: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ormondneighborsunited

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