COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Midlands members of the Black Lives Matter movement made their presence felt during Sunday's secessionist rally at the State House.
Several stayed outside barricades during the event to carry a message to those in attendance and to the police officers who were protecting the public.
According to members of the movement, that message was focused on building better ties between law enforcement agencies and the black communities they serve. Leaders of the movement who were at the rally described the events that unfolded last week as great tragedies. That includes the killing of five police officers in Dallas during a Black Lives Matter rally.
After leaving the rally at the State House the Black Lives Matter movement took its message to Finlay Park.
Several movement members said they feel the path to peace can only come if both sides sit down and talk. Several members added that they are hopeful that going forward they can find common ground with police agencies and a path to unity.
"I know someone who is a police officer and I respect her and she's scared for her life right now," rally attendee Thomas Washington said. "Of course, you know, it's hard for her to take that step back and look at how policing is done in this country and who it targets the most."
"Right now you want to know how we feel? We're angry. We're angry, we're upset, we're sad. Some of us are even scared," protestor Perry Bradley said. "But the problem is right now we have to come together and fight all these fears that we have."
Other groups connected with Black Lives Matter also planned to continue their message Sunday night, with one group planning a peace march in downtown Columbia.