Black Lives Matter protesters march for equality in downtown Orlando

Photo by Amanda Pham. Protesters of diverse backgrounds gather to support Black Lives Matter in downtown Orlando on Friday night.

More than 100 people marched through downtown Orlando protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement Friday night.

“They are all my brothers and sisters,” said Olivia Sunna, a sophomore English and creative writing major. “I feel honored to stand with them today to speak up against all they face, including police brutality, discrimination, wage gaps and unequal access to clean drinking water, such as the case in Flint, Michigan.”

Protesters met at Lake Eola at 6 p.m. According to the event’s Facebook page, protesters wanted to raise awareness for justice in the Pine Hills community for what they termed as a neighborhood with a “lack of security” and rising death rate.

Sunna, 19, said the Black Lives Matter movement came out to support the recent Women’s March among many other protests that stand for equality. She wanted to return the love and support.

Rachel Gambach, a sophomore English literature major, said it was important to support each other’s communities.

“There was news in the media saying the Women’s March was the first time white women got involved and showed up for such protests,” Gambach, 19, said. “That really shook me to the core because although I did not make it due to being sick, it was the first protest I planned to attend.”

Gambach said she realized the media was right. She said there are many protests happening around her, and other people’s rights matter just as much. She decided to make the Black Lives Matter movement her very first protesting experience.

“Inequality is the major issue,” Gambach said. “Everybody deserves the same basic human rights and to be treated equally.”

When it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, mass incarceration is a big concern, Gambach said. She also said there are cases of people with different racial backgrounds committing similar crimes, yet one of them receives a far lesser sentence and is more unlikely to be imprisoned.

“It seems like it’s another way to keep an entire race down,” Gambach said.

Patrick Castan, 30, commuted to Orlando from Longwood to participate in the protest to shine a light on the Black Lives Matter movement’s core principle of being a peaceful march and a protest against systematic racism.

“Many people think it is only about unarmed black people getting shot, but when we factor in everything else, we see the system is unfair to minorities from the pipelines to the wall,” Castan said.

He also said that the most important thing is for everyone to be treated equally, and that is the end goal and also the reason why everyone is here.

“It is a nice feeling to see people of all races and backgrounds standing in solidarity,” Castan said. “It gives you hope.”