BRUNSWICK — Protesters took to Brunswick’s streets again on Saturday, demanding not only justice and an end to police brutality and racism, but also action from citizens and policymakers. 

Cries of “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, no peace” were joined with chants of “defund the police” as a crowd of over 100 marched to the Brunswick Police Department for the fourth — but not the last —time. 

“We will come back next weekend,” Jada Strome, a protest leader told the crowd, and they will keep coming back “until we’re heard.” 

She sent invitations to Brunswick law enforcement and town councilors, she said, but none were present. 

Organizers calling to defund the police made it clear they do not want to dismantle the police department entirely, but rather to divert some of the $4.4 million budget to social and human service efforts, such as the Brunswick Housing Authority, Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, People Plus and the teen center. 

Jada Strome speaks to the crowd outside the Brunswick Police Station, detailing ways funding for the department could instead be used for social service organizations in town. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

They also want to fund counselors and responders trained in sexual violence support; a substance use, addiction and abuse response team; and a mental health urgent response team trained in de-escalation, among others. 

Outside of funding, Strome said they need to demilitarize the Brunswick Police force immediately, ban the use of tear gas and dispose of any existing tear gas canisters, and make the names of any officers involved in incidents of police brutality or excessive use of force a matter of public record, among other policy changes. 

“This ain’t done,” protester Tanisha McKenzie said, issuing a call to action to those who say they are sorry for the mistreatment of black people in America.

“Don’t tell me,” she said. “Show me that you’re sorry.” 

“We’re new to this but we should have started years ago,” Strome added.

The protest was the latest in a nationwide movement spurred by outrage over the death of George Floyd, who was killed last month by a police officer in Minnesota. Former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, despite Floyd’s cries that he could not breathe. The video of Floyd’s death, coupled with heightened tensions over the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, among others, sparked protests calling for an end to police brutality and racism, as well as efforts to defund police departments. 

Protesters marched from the downtown mall to the Brunswick Police Station on Saturday to demand justice for George Floyd and an end to racism and police brutality. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

“All of us are so tired,” protester Juliet Saldana said. “I am so tired of looking on social media every day and seeing another name on that list.” 

Breydan McCrary, who quickly became an organizer of several Midcoast protests after becoming a de-facto leader of a Brunswick event earlier this month, said that as a black transgender man, he feels like there are two targets on his back, and he constantly has to wonder, “Am I next?” 

Protesters gather around a man in a truck, chanting “Black lives matter” after he yelled “All lives matter” during their protest. Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record

Though peaceful, the protest was also emotional. One protester fainted and hit his head. Crowd medics tended to him until paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital. 

Later, a passenger in a pickup truck stopped at the light on Stanwood Street and yelled “All lives matter,” a phrase commonly used to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement. Protesters quickly mobilized and approached the vehicle, chanting “Black lives matter” over his voice, and the truck soon drove off. 


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