Black ministers lead march for racial justice, equality in Hamilton

The latest in a series of local public demonstrations in the wake of George Floyd’s death took place Saturday through downtown Hamilton, led for the first time by area African-American ministers.

More than 150 participants – periodically chanting Floyd’s name and other exhortations for racial equality – marched through Hamilton’s central business district, across the High Street bridge to the western district then ending at the Butler County administration building’s plaza for speeches.

The walking demonstration was led by the Rev. Victor Davis, who has organized the city’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day march for 34 consecutive years. The march, supported by temporary traffic stops by Hamilton Police, went smoothly and without incident.

>>MORE: Hamilton ministers call for protest march to bring ‘attention of the inequality’

The death of Floyd — a black man who died in Minneapolis last month while in police custody — was a call for all black Americans to renew their public efforts in seeking fair treatment by all police and equity undeterred by racism, Davis said.

“We need to show solidarity across the country. We need to bring people together,” he said looking over the crowd joining the march.

“Black Lives Matter” was seen on signs and clothing, and was among the chants shouted by marchers.

Davis thanked the participants during his end-of-the-march speech, but also said he had hoped for a larger turnout of all races.

“There ought to be more black folks here and there ought to be more white folks here … that is the problem with Hamilton,” said the life-long resident.

The march was the latest of nearly a dozen similar events in Butler County since 46-year-old Floyd’s death during an arrest on May 25. Officers have been charged in his death.

There have been peaceful protests in Hamilton, Middletown, Fairfield, West Chester Twp. and Oxford in Butler County and Carlisle and Springboro in Warren County.

>>MORE: Hundreds march peacefully through Hamilton in protest: What happened Sunday

Unlike some other larger cities in America, which have seen hundreds of injuries to protesters and police and millions of dollars in damage – the local demonstrations and rallies have been peaceful. These events are continuing.

Saturday also included a large march in support of Black Lives Matter in southern Warren County’s city of Mason. The Middletown NAACP has scheduled a “Middletown United For Change 2020” march at 1 p.m. June 20.

>>MORE: ‘This is not OK’: Butler County protesters share strong messages in a week of events

Long-time Hamilton resident Tina Jones joined the marchers carrying a hand-painted sign referencing what a Minneapolis police officer was shown doing on video during Floyd’s arrest. The sign read: “Get your knees off our necks!”

“I’m here to support the movement not only for George Floyd but for all people in the world of different races. And even more so, I’m black, I’m a woman and I’m gay. So I want to bring awareness to the whole community and be part of a positive movement,” Jones said.

Davis said race relations in Hamilton still have “a long way to go.”

“We still have a lot of division. Representation (elected politicians) on all levels of city and county government still shows a lot of racial disparity,” he said.

“But we want to bring an awareness that we are not complacent. And that we all stand in this together and prayerfully other folks will see this and become part of the action and not just observers,” Davis said.

The Rev. Greg Andrews, pastor of House of Deliverance Ministries in downtown Hamilton where the march started, said he hoped the demonstration would be part of a springboard to expand racial diversity in the city.

“We have challenges here in Hamilton now. But if we come together and work together, I believe we can make some changes if everybody does it from the heart,” Andrews said.

About the Author