TACOMA, Wash. — Hundreds of mothers, children and others supporting them, lined the mile-long walkway of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge on Saturday morning in silent protest.
The peaceful gathering, Mothers Against Police Brutality, stretched across the entirety of the westbound bridge that connects Tacoma and Gig Harbor.
At each end, protesters held up individual signs that formed two messages: “Mothers For Peace, Equality, Justice” and “He Called Out For His Mother.”
Following the death of George Floyd, who was killed in Minnesota last week, and called out for his mother as a police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, some of the women gathered on the bridge held up signs asking if their children would be next.
Many held up signs of support for Black Lives Matter, or signs calling for equality, while others held their fists in the air as vehicles crossing the bridge honked in solidarity.
Lakewood resident Michelle Habig, 32, spoke about the importance of mothers standing together against police brutality.
“All I know is that when George Floyd called for his mom, every mother heard it,” she said.
Habig is the mother of two sons who are 14 and 12 years old, and three daughters, two age 13 and another age 7.
“I have five beautiful black children,” she said. “And this is important. I’m scared that my children, especially my sons, aren’t going to make it to be adults if this continues.
“It’s not fair that black mothers have to worry about that — that we have to teach our children, especially our sons, how to interact if they’re confronted by the police in order just to keep them alive.”
Betty Newson, 71, of Tacoma said she had conversations with her son 34-year-old son, Alex, who is black, about how to react if stopped by the police to try to ensure his safety.
Alex has participated in marches in West Hollywood, where he lives, Newson said. She and her 46-year-old daughter, Emily, who joined her on the bridge Saturday, held up signs in support of the black community.
“I’m out here today because I have always been a firm believer in everybody having rights,” Newson said. “ ... I’m a very proud mom of a young, gay black man. I’m a very proud mom of a young, white woman. Both of my kids. I have grandchildren that are mixed.”
Newson said she was having a hard time fighting back tears, thinking back to the civil rights marches in Seattle she walked in during the 1960s. The black community is still experiencing injustice in today’s society.
“It has to stop,” Habig said of police brutality. “I want my kids to have a fair chance like everybody else.”
Quiana Lambert-Williams, 23, from Lakewood remembered conversations she had with her mother about how to respond when approached by law enforcement.
“My mom was telling me, ‘Be careful to do this, make sure if you get pulled over to put your hands on the wheel, don’t move,’ — things that we have to learn growing up to kind of keep us safe,” she said.
Lambert-Williams, who was joined by her 7-year-old son, 3-year-old daughter and her partner, Isaiah, joined the peaceful assembly on the bridge, hoping for a better future.
“The future lies with the children, and I think we have to make sure we get it right,” she said. “I told my kids, ‘I think everybody should be treated equally.’ …
“We just want to get the message out, and we want it to be about a better future for the children.”
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