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Many first time protesters join demonstrations in Southwest Florida

Protesters across the country are demanding change and police reform. All walks of life are gathering together with the same message, including at Reflections Park in Cape Coral.

Several protesters there on Thursday were inspired to take their voices and concerns to the streets for the first time during the movement sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

Many of them said they’re tired of seeing racial injustice and had to get out and do something. Some of those were doing it for the first time.

“I’m tired,” Felicia Littrell said. “I’m tired of seeing my black brothers and sisters murdered in front of us, literally.”

Littrell said the decision to protest for the first time is not about her. She said it’s all about being a voice for her children.

“I have four children that are multiracial, and I need them to see me putting in the work,” Littrell said. “I need my son to come home alive, and I need him to not be in fear of not coming home alive because of a routine traffic stop.”

The protest in Cape Coral was also the first time for Ophelia Locke, who said the lives of people who look like her continue to be threatened.

“I’m sick of systematic oppression,” Locke said. “And because I’m deeply saddened and outraged that I’m even having to have conversations about equality.”

Going out to protest brought a flood of emotions for many first-timers.

“I’m somewhere between feeling empowered and feeling overwhelmed with everything,” Locke said.

“I was very emotional,” Littrell said.

It’s a sense of pride about their role in the push for change that keeps bringing them back for more.

“I have to use my privilege in order to have this situation come to light,” Littrell said.

Some of the first-time protesters said they will continue to attend as many protests as they can.

“At the end of this all, I would just be really proud to say that I played a role, no matter how small, in a movement that was not just requesting but demanding change,” Locke said.

Reporter:Breana Ross
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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