As a result of the efforts of lifetime Crofton resident and Elon University student Hana Hawthorne, something unprecedented happened in Crofton on June 2. Over 300 people gathered to protest the racist killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other African-Americans. Hawthorne had been expecting somewhere between 20 and 50 people to participate and was shocked to see at least 50 cars already in the Crofton Library parking lot when she arrived.
The protest began at the library with a short address from Hawthorne, who told the crowd that she was “tired of seeing another face, another name added to the long list” and that she was tired of worrying about the safety of her friends and family. She exclaimed, “Black people are tired!” and led the crowd in saying the names of African-Americans who were killed by police or otherwise lost their lives to violent racism.
Protesters were supposed to march from the library to the Crofton police station for a dialogue with the Crofton Chief of Police, but the large turnout made convening at the police station logistically impossible. To accommodate the higher-than-expected turnout, which unofficially was estimated at 300 to 400 people, the police dialogue occurred outside Crofton Elementary School. The protest was supposed to conclude with a walk back to the library, but during the meeting with police, a protester said that he wanted to march on Crofton Parkway. Officer B. Williams, Crofton’s sole Black police officer, said he would march with the protesters. Demonstrators carrying signs and chanting “Black lives matter,” “No Justice! No Peace!,” and “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” marched along Crofton Parkway, closing one side of the road to traffic. County police showed up due to the size of the crowd.
Hawthorne, who attended Crofton Middle School and South River High School, was inspired to organize a demonstration in Crofton by what she recently experienced protesting in Washington, D.C. The actions in D.C. threw into contrast for her that similar support for Black residents was not visible in Crofton, something Hawthorne experienced firsthand in addition to overtly racist, anti-Semitic, and ignorant remarks from students at the county schools she attended. Wanting Black families and allies in Crofton to feel safe and supported by their community, she, with the help of her brother and a friend, organized the June 2 protest. While Hawthorne heard racist and offensive remarks directed at protesters, she viewed the reaction from residents watching the protest make its way through Crofton as overwhelmingly positive.
The idea of a police dialogue also sprang from what Hawthorne witnessed protesting in Washington, D.C. There, she saw protesters approach police to air their feelings and observed that it seemed to be therapeutic for them to get their pain and anger off their chests. She wanted Black Crofton residents to have a similar opportunity, and she also wanted allies to witness such moments to drive home how hard it is for African-Americans to deal with the realities of living with racism and police brutality. Overall, Hawthorne believes that the dialogue with police went well, noting that the chief, “a small part of a large system,” was accommodating in making himself available. She also deeply appreciated Officer Williams marching with the protesters and observed protesters speaking to him and asking him questions during the demonstration.
Reflecting on the event, Hawthorne stated, “I was so impressed and proud of my community for coming out to support this movement. I hope future efforts will allow them to continue to see the need for this sort of action. Black people in Crofton should feel supported by their fellow community members, and I want to help them do that in any way I can.” To that end, Hawthorne has more actions planned. The next one will take place on June 10 at 3:30 p.m. and convene in the Wegman’s parking lot. It will move through a different part of Crofton to get the message out to more of the community. It is Hawthorne’s hope that Crofton will continue to support its Black residents after the protests are over.
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