In Their Own Words: Why New Orleans Protests

Jun 19, 2020
Originally published on June 23, 2020 3:01 pm

The world erupted after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. In New Orleans, activists have been holding rallies calling for police accountability and criminal justice reform in the weeks since then.

New Orleans Public Radio has been covering those rallies, and we talked to some New Orleans residents about why they’re out protesting — and their hopes for the future.

Ann Cobb

“I'm 75 years old and I'm here for my children and grandchildren. I was at the march on Washington, the civil rights movement, the whole thing — the riots after Dr. Martin Luther King was killed. And here we are in a whole new century and we're doing the same thing that we were doing then. I have one grandson who's 11 years old. I have older grandsons who are in their 20s. I have sons and daughters, and I worry about them every time they go out in the street. I feel we're at a pivotal point right now and we have got to do something or we're going to just fall into a pit that we cannot get out of, and the bodies will continue to mount.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

Larenzo Morgan

“I want black people to have respect. I don't want people to keep getting killed. It's just eliminating our race. The police want to kill us. For no reason exactly. They can't even tell you why they're doing it, they just want the power. I hope they change the rules.”

As told to Travis Lux.

Joe Piccione

“As a veteran, I know that if a drunk lance corporal gets in a fight with the employees, he's getting arrested. He's not getting shot. … I know that police shouldn't be showing up to suicide calls, that police shouldn't be showing up to schizophrenic breakdowns. That's a job for medical and mental health professionals, not the police. They're not trained for that. So why are we sending them to do those jobs? Why are we paying them to do those jobs?

“I am also here to show that it's not just black people who give a damn about social injustice, that it's all of us — that it’s veterans, that it's white people, that it's southern boys.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

John Castillo

“I'm just here to show my support for the cause of having equal justice for everybody under the law. I think it's really important for people to show up. … I would just like to see swift action on police misconduct.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

Kambria Temelkova

“It's not just racial. It affects everyone. When there's no equality for one person, there's not equality for anyone. The brutality has to stop. The violence has escalated for so long that I think we're kind of at a boiling point and I just want to support the people here who want to make an honest change.

“I would like to see justice carried out for what happened to George Floyd and all of the police brutality … and I would like to see the demilitarization of the police force. ...They're supposed to help us, not bring out military-grade weapons on us.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

Heather Gonzales

“It's just a continuous show of solidarity. It's about so much more than just George Floyd. It's about all of their lives. It's about the numbers and statistics that we see here. It's about the police that have not been charged or arrested, and rarely convicted. It's about justice. It's about making it clear that black lives and bodies, trans children, mothers, fathers — that it all matters.”

As told to Travis Lux.


“I've been going to a lot of the protests and doing my best to listen and educate myself. The most important thing to remember is that what is happening is costing people their lives. I lost my dad last year really suddenly and it was terrible. And I'm not recovered from that. And I would never wish losing a family member on anyone.

“I believe in defunding the police and redistributing the funds to other social programs. And I also believe in accountability. Our leaders have an accountability to the people, and I think we forget that sometimes.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

Niki Sideris

“I've been trying to come out as often as I can to the rallies. It's important to lend my support and to hear what they have to say. I've been shocked over and over again by really awful videos of police brutality, and really just becoming more acutely aware of the different life that I might lead walking down the street, the different people who scare me, than other people who look differently than I do.

“Reallocating funds to the people instead of to the police force definitely makes a lot of sense to me. I don't personally have policy recommendations, but I do like to care for people. And I think that that's a better strategy than some aggressive policing tactics that we've seen.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

Kellie Peach

“A lot of our actions in the streets are bringing a lot of change about and I'm really excited to be participating in that because a lot of change has to happen. I'm excited that people are not stopping, that the actions are continuing and that we have an opportunity to really see something shift. Everything from the statues coming down to the police reform happening, and everything in between, to me is really invigorating.

“I think that we need to defund the police and reallocate those funds to places where it actually makes sense - be it schools, mental health services, housing services, workers’ rights.”

As told to Tegan Wendland.

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