A few key protestors begin call-and-response chants that the entire crowd follows. They alternated between several, but all called for an end to police violence and to honor the black lives that have been lost. TIFFANY DUONG.Keys Weekly

“All Lives Matter when Black Lives Matter.”

Protesters lined the sidewalk in front of Murray Nelson Government Center with signs and masks. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

On Friday, the chant could be heard from across U.S. 1 echoing from in front of the Murray Nelson Government Center in Key Largo, and alternated with call-and-response cheers of “Say his name: George Floyd” and “Say her name: Breonna Taylor.”

The peaceful protest brought together many groups in solidarity with the international Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, including Sheriff Rick Ramsay and officers in his department.

Many wore wooden hearts painted with “Peace for All” and stood alongside protesters with signs decrying police brutality and “white silence.” Everyone wore masks and stayed in socially-distant groups, for the most part.

Protest organizer Ciera Cox asked, “Have you ever seen this many people at a protest? And in Key Largo?”

Protesters gather at Murray Nelson Government Center along with sheriff’s deputies to stand in solidarity with the BLM movement. Event organizers thought it might be the biggest protest Key Largo has ever seen. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Protesters lined the lawns in front of the government center for 2-1/2 hours, chanting and waving at honking motorists showing their support. At the end of the scheduled time, Cox addressed the crowd. 

“We vote this out,” she said. “We are the keys to change. Thank you all for coming.”

Protesters gather at Murray Nelson Government Center along with sheriff’s deputies to stand in solidarity with the BLM movement. Event organizers thought it might be the biggest protest Key Largo has ever seen. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

Cox and her group, Fridays for Future Tavernier (FFF Tavernier) have been protesting climate inaction at the Murray Nelson on Fridays since September 2019. Inspired by nationwide events, FFF Tavernier began hosting BLM protests two weeks ago in lieu of its customary Friday climate protest.

Ellen Hudson stood masked with her coworkers. “It’s my first protest,” she said. “I came to stand with people who support the same cause as I do because silence is not an option in a matter like this.”

Key Largo Pastor Ralph Pratt said, “I didn’t expect this. Thank you, from my heart to your heart. It’s a blessing to see you all participate.”

Protesters hold up their fists in solidarity with the BLM movement as supportive motorists honk while passing by. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly
Mari-Etta Stoner, a Tavernier resident, has been making wooden hearts with peaceful sayings and putting them all around the Upper Keys. Some have been seen as far away as Europe. She brought hearts to distribute at the Key Largo protest. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly
Signs and chants mark the peaceful protest in Key Largo. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly
A large wooden sign saying “Black Lives Matter” marks the protest spot before supporters gathered. During the protest, it was displayed for passing motorists to see. TIFFANY DUONG/Keys Weekly

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