weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Juneteenth rally, march on Las Vegas Strip draw scores of protesters

Updated June 19, 2020 - 11:43 pm

Demonstrators marched for hours in Las Vegas as part of a peaceful rally and walk hosted by Black Lives Matter Las Vegas.

The Juneteenth Rally and March for Justice started with a pre-rally at 4 p.m. Friday in a parking lot at 953 E Sahara Ave., and by 6:20 p.m. the group began marching toward the Las Vegas Strip from Sahara Avenue.

An exact destination was not announced, which organizer Zyera Dorsey said was an attempt to deter police. Before the march protesters chanted, “I don’t know where we’re going; you don’t know where we’re going.”

Before the march got underway, at least four volunteer medics passed out water, preparing for heat exhaustion and any injuries on the walk.

One of them, Derek Larson, said that the protest was the first he’s attended and that he wanted to volunteer at a well-organized protest.

“We believe in what’s going on,” the 26-year-old Las Vegas resident said. “We wanted to throw our support behind something organized.”

Henderson resident Karen Reimer said the video of George Floyd’s death while in Minnesota police custody “cracked open” the racism many Americans witness daily.

“I didn’t know about Juneteenth,” she also noted, referring to the annual commemoration of the date when Texas slaves first learned they had been freed, nearly two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

“None of my friends support the marches but I’ll make new friends here,” she added.

Reimer said she moved to Nevada last year but after living in California’s Bay Area she wanted to open her mind to other people’s experiences.

“I want to find out about other things I can do to help,” she said. “I want to support them.”

New Las Vegas residents Todd Nielson, 43 and Bahar Shahpar, who live in Summerlin, said this is their first protest in the city and they’d like to get more involved with the local Black Lives Matter chapter.

“It’s an important holiday and we’ve come to celebrate,” Shahpar said. “I love to see how many people there are.”

The protest carried on with more than 100 people just before 9 p.m. as demonstrators continued south on Las Vegas Boulevard with no specific destination ever determined. Officers began detaining marchers on the sidewalk near Flamingo Road and Las Vegas Boulevard after more than five hours of peaceful rallies and marches. It was unclear what charges, if any, those detained might face.

Organizers feared early on that there may be arrests after a brief encounter at the rally with Las Vegas police who announced they would be taking the wooden planks that protesters planned to use as signs. Police cited the new documents released Friday that banned shields.

“I appreciate you being with us but it’s time for y’all to go back,” Dorsey said around 8 p.m. to those under 18, whom she encouraged to stop marching outside The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace.

Those who continued on faced a line of police officers near Flamingo and Las Vegas Boulevard. By 10 p.m. many had accepted rides back to their cars, nearly 4 miles from where the march ended.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.