Black Lives Matter Protests Draw Hundreds in Leesburg, Thousands in Sterling

Protests across Loudoun continued on Saturday with Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Leesburg and Sterling drawing massive crowds.

Leesburg’s second major protest in a week drew hundreds of people, who marched through downtown from the Town Green to the courthouse square. The statue of the Confederate soldier on the courthouse green, surrounded by protesters once again, ended the demonstration wearing a face mask reading “Black Lives Matter” and holding a protest sign.

And at Algonkian Regional Park, thousands of protesters marched and chanted across fields, paths and golf courses to show their solidarity with the movement.

“Racism is a behavior that is taught, it’s taught. It’s not something people grow up doing, it’s learned,” said one young attendee. “We need to change it. We need to make that change today. Let’s help everybody, and use what we have. If you’re white, use your voice and help the people that need the help and get them through this, so we can get through it and focus on things that actually need to be focused on, not the color of your skin.”

The protests were prompted by the latest series of high-profile police killings of black people, including Breonna Taylor in Lousville, KY, and most recently George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN. Their names have become rallying cries at protests and demonstrations.

The demonstration at Algonkian Regional Park was organized and led by high school student Ocean Akinotcho.

March organizer and high school student Ocean Akinotcho. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]

“People tell us that it’s because the blacks are violent, it’s because the blacks live in ghettos, and that they keep becoming drug addicts, drug lords and just criminals,” Akinotcho told the protesters. “We’re meant to be criminals, they say, but we’re not meant to be criminals. Nobody is born violent, no one is born racist and no one is born to die.”

Like other organizers who have been surprised by the number and fervor of the people who have turned out to demonstrations, Akinotcho said she expected only a tiny fraction of the actual attendance—fewer than a hundred, she said, compared to the thousands who are estimated to have shown up. And, she said, “young activists should stand up now, because there’s no time better than today.”

“Other than protesting, I feel like the best way [to help] is to donate, to spread awareness, and to really stand up for your fellow black man within the community,” Akinotcho said. “Because you don’t know how many people I’ve seen who have told me that they were abused by classmates, teachers, even people they trust, and nobody stuck up for them. And having somebody stick up for you was a big deal for them. I feel like that’s the root of the Black Lives Matter movement—if you can stick up for your black fellow, then you’re definitely doing something.”

Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) has also been a regular presence at those protests, including at Algonkian Regional Park. She promised to take action in her new post on the county Board of Supervisors, including helping the push to take down the statue of a Confederate soldier and push for a Loudoun County police department to take over law enforcement from the Sheriff’s Office.

“Allyship is a long-term partnership with disadvantaged populations and people to help them make their lives better, and that’s what I’m going for,” Briskman said. “It’s not a sign that you hold, it’s some words that you say only. Allyship, especially for someone like me, means action.”

“There should not be a more, and there should not be a less, and that is why Black Lives Matter is here—not to matter more, but to matter,” Akinotcho said.

rgreene@loudounnow.com

10 thoughts on “Black Lives Matter Protests Draw Hundreds in Leesburg, Thousands in Sterling

  • 2020-06-07 at 12:33 pm
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    Protesting for equality is common sense. However, Juli Briskman promoting replacing the Loudoun Sheriff Dept. with a new Police Dept. is insane!!! There is NO benefit to the citizens! In fact the cost would be $Millions.

    We have a nationally recognized, exceptional Sheriff & superb law enforcement agency! This is an attempt to undermine the voters & grab police powers by the Board of Supervisors!

    Supervisor Briskman is a radical activist who has no regard or respect for the exemplary performance of the Loudoun County Sheriff Department! She also wants to strip citizens of their Constitutional Rights!

  • 2020-06-07 at 2:13 pm
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    “Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) has also been a regular presence at those protests, including at Algonkian Regional Park. She promised to take action in her new post on the county Board of Supervisors, including helping the push to take down the statue of a Confederate soldier and push for a Loudoun County police department to take over law enforcement from the Sheriff’s Office.”

    Because nothing makes peoples lives better than by stripping them of their vote and direct authority over law enforcement. Keep talking Finger lady.

    Keep showing us who you are; a run of the mill, intellectually challenged, control freak.

  • 2020-06-07 at 5:31 pm
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    I wonder how many took a knee for African American former police Captain Dave Dorn? The 38 year veteran of the St. Louis Police Department was gunned down by rioters this week defending a friend’s store…quite a difference from habitual criminal George Floyd. While he was murdered too, had Floyd not been high on Meth and tried to pass counterfeit currency at a store he would not have been arrested. So, where is the outrage for Dorn, father of 5, grandfather of 10?

  • 2020-06-07 at 7:23 pm
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    Juli Briskman your insane!!! Loudoun County is in the middle of a financial crisis and you want to spend more money creating a police department that will cost Loudoun County residents more money. Why fix something that is not broken? Our Sheriff runs a fine department and you should go over and thank him for doing a great job, instead you want to replace him. A reasonable and prudent person would not want to replace someone doing a good job, so please explain yourself!!!!

    • 2020-06-08 at 6:07 pm
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      It’s about control and power, nothing more than that. She knows it will not benefit the citizens, but this way democrats control something else. Had the sheriff lost his reelection to democrat, this proposal would never have been brought up.

  • 2020-06-08 at 7:23 am
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    The march was so much fun and for a great cause, as I hadn’t been out of my house in a couple of months due to the WuFlu. People brought their dogs, the weather was great, and several brought tasty snacks and we sang meaningful songs. We accomplished our goals from this march I’m happy to say.

  • 2020-06-08 at 9:04 am
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    It’s odd that people are demanding the end of the LCSO and a new police pepartment. The irony here is that Democrat-controlled cities and counties, with Democrat-controlled police departments in Louisville and Minneapolis are responsible for the deaths of Taylor and Floyd. One of the Minneapolis board of supervisors just admitted that they have been unable to reform what appears to be an utterly corrupt police department in spite of running the city forever.

    Politicians aren’t going to disband the police force and replace it with nothing. They are going to replace it with a much less accountable organization completely beholden to politicians. If these corrupt politicians in Minneapolis get there way, watch for massive increases in violence and lawlessness in the city. The police will effectively be replaced by groups resembling the Nazi Brown Shirts and we are likely to see chaos reign in the region.

    I don’t think Loudoun residents really approve of that path so keep this in mind as you hear ever more shrill calls to do the same here.

  • 2020-06-08 at 10:19 am
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    Juli Briskman conflating BLM and her political agenda item to replace the sheriff’s office with a police force is absolutely remarkable, and sets a new standard for the meaning of “tone deaf”.

    The protests regularly bring up the names of two other recent African American victims, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.

    Guess what…

    Minneapolis were George Floyd was killed? Police force.
    Louisville where Breonna Taylor was killed? Police force.
    Glynn county where Ahmaud Arbery was killed? Police force.

    Closer to home, a Fairfax county police officer was just charged after using a stun gun on a black man who was walking away this past Friday. So much for the fallacious “it’s working great in comparable jurisdictions” argument.

    It’s not even a Republican vs. Democrat issue like a lot of people would have us believe. Minneapolis and Louisville both have a Democrat majority council and democrat mayors. Fairfax County has a Democrat board of supervisors.

    If we were to follow Briskman’s “logic” in the context of BLM protests where she brought this up, you would think a police force is exactly what she doesn’t want.

    This tells you everything you need to know about Briskman’s critical thinking skills or lack thereof.

    Here is the deal: Juli Briskman wants to disenfranchise voters. Plain and simple. On the night of her election to the board she already made a push for a police force to replace the Sheriff’s office, because “the sheriff is elected every 4 years so there is a lack of accountability”.

    A facepalm moment by someone who was, that very day, elected for 4 years herself.

    She did not stop there. On the February 18 board meeting she argued that the electoral college in Virginia should vote according to the result of the popular vote nationwide in presidential elections, essentially saying that what Virginians want is completely irrelevant. All but one other supervisor disagreed.

    Chair Randall even called her a “bad American” after the vote. Yes, it was in jest, but chair Randall was actually 100% correct. Americans who value their neighbors voices’ don’t try to disenfranchise them every chance they get.

    If you follow the work of the Loudoun county Sheriff’s office through their daily reports and the LTM/LN news on major crime in the county, our local law enforcement is doing a great job at keeping the peace, arresting criminals, and reaching out to the community.

    Why anyone would want to discard something that works great by the Sheriff who reports to the People, and instead have an appointed chief of police who is only accountable to a bunch of politicians with their own agenda (or worse, a Party agenda, whichever it is) is beyond me.

  • 2020-06-08 at 7:28 pm
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    Interesting demographic–mostly young females. I wonder if they know of George Soros, the main force and money behind BLM? I wonder if they are aware of the actual statistics regarding the whole sick mess of human to human brutality (like Chicago on a Saturday night for example)?

  • 2020-06-10 at 9:30 am
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    We deserve what we vote for. When the word gets out that Loudoun County is the richest in the US and run by and populated by a democrat majority, they’ll be coming after us, soon!

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