HOUSTON - More than a hundred Black protesters marched the streets of Third Ward side-by-side with police officers Saturday morning.
Starting at Jack Yates, George Floyd's former high school, demonstrators marched in his honor.
Despite his death at the hands of an officer, dozens of them showed up from local departments with newly-appointed Houston Police Chief Troy Finner leading the way.
"If we start throwing rocks and stones at one another and don’t look at the pain and suffering and how we can grow, you know who wins? The few bad cops and the few bad people in our community," said Finner during a rally following the march.
The Stop The Violence March ended at Texas Southern University's Durley stadium where the groups joined together to discuss both justice in policing and ending gun violence.
There, mothers of murdered black sons denounced recent legislation to expand access to firearms.
"When George Floyd called out for his mother, he called for a nation," said Calandrian Kemp. She lost her 20-year-old son George Kemp to gun violence in 2013.
"Whatever it takes is what I'm going to do to keep you from suffering, keep you from being in this club we didn't ask to be in," she says.
Also in that club is the 85-year-old mother of Sergeant Howard Preston, a 41-year veteran of the Houston Police Department who was killed on duty in 2020. During the rally, Preston posed for pictures standing next to civil rights pioneer Reverend Bill Lawson.
"This time, they're being supported by the very people with whom we've had trouble," said Lawson during the march. "We've come so far, not as far as we need to go, but so far," he added.
Not everyone was pleased with the strong police presence which included HPD recruiters who manned an information tent at the rally.
"It’s more police out here than it is actual spectators," said observer David Richard. "This is a police rally. This is a farce."
But speakers say their presence was in a joint effort to end murders that have plagued both sides of the picket line.
"There are too many guns on the street," stated Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee during her speech.
Congressman Al Green pointed to legislation moving through Congress. "If we want justice for George Floyd, we've got to pass the George Floyd Justice In Policing Act... If you want to be assured that there will be justice in litigation, pass the law that will allow litigation to continue."
LaTonya Floyd, George Floyd’s older sister also took to the podium and acknowledged similar ties to tragedy with the Preston family. "Sergeant Preston, a hero, got a call [of] domestic violence [and] took care of his business. Just like George, he’s not standing out here."
The rally ended with a thinner crowd than it started with after more than three and a half hours of marching and speaking. The remaining group of a couple dozen closed the event in a prayer for an end to violence.