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Community procession circles Natchez with unified message

NATCHEZ — Residents and officials of Natchez and Adams County mourned the Minneapolis death of George Floyd in a symbolic funeral procession on Friday.

Approximately 200 vehicles lined up along Broadway Street from Rosalie to Roth Hill at noon Friday to drive around the city in silence with warning signals lights flashing as some churches rang funeral bells.

Floyd’s death has become a nationwide symbol of social injustice and police brutality against blacks after a video surfaced of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck while Floyd stated he couldn’t breathe for several minutes before he died.

Natchez resident Albert Jones said he participated in Friday’s processional in protest of the way Floyd died.

“I’m here in protest of the killing of George Floyd,” Jones said. “(The procession) is needed to bring attention to America of the injustice that has been done to black people for over 400 years. We (in Natchez) have been vigilant but maybe not as vigilant as we should have. I’m proud that we didn’t have any riots here or anything like that.”

The procession, made to resemble a funeral, showed that the people of Natchez were mourning and showing respect for Floyd and his family while bringing the community together, Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said.

“We here in the city wanted to do something to memorialize and honor the life of George Floyd,” Grennell said. “… We’ve had several unity projects over the years since I’ve been mayor, and we need to continue to work on unity within our community. The thing about today’s procession was it symbolized a unity circle. We made a complete circle of unity around our city to bring people together to show support and unity.”

Grennell said the reason for hosting a processional instead of a march allowed protestors to be socially distanced inside their vehicles and safely honor Floyd during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re currently faced with a pandemic and a financial crisis in this country, but one of the biggest horrors we are facing in this country is the racial divide. Today was about bringing everybody together — young and old, black and white, rich and poor, gay and straight — everybody together so that Natchez can be that city that is striving to become more unified.”