clock menu more-arrow no yes
“If they want to stop I can give them some water. If their throats are sore I can give them some lozenge," said Anaika Forbes outside Brooklyn Borough Hall about shifting from her work donating food to the underprivileged to providing essentials to protesters, June 5, 2020. "I just want to help them so they don’t have to stop doing what they are doing.”
Anaika Forbes
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Filed under:

Protester Portraits: Why New Yorkers Joined the George Floyd Demonstrations

Anaika Forbes decided to shift her volunteer focus from distributing free lunches to needy New Yorkers to giving water and other essential supplies to anti-police brutality protesters.

“I just want to help them so they don’t have to stop doing what they are doing, knowing there are people out here risking their lives for their rights, my rights and the rights of my kids,” Forbes, 36.

Forbes was one of thousands of New Yorkers who have taken to the streets in recent days to call for systemic changes to policing after a Minneapolis officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nearly nine minutes, killing him.

Some of the demonstrators shared their stories with THE CITY outside Brooklyn Borough Hall Friday, with several asking to just use their first names for fear of retaliation from employers or the NYPD.

I have a daughter that I need to be out here representing,” said construction worker, Manny, during a protest outside Borough Hall, June 5, 2020. “This has been going on for a long time and will continue to keep going if I’m not out here 24-7. The time to speak up is now.”
Manny
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“I have a daughter that I need to be out here representing,” said Manny, a 33-year-old construction worker “This has been going on for a long time and will continue to keep going if I’m not out here 24/7. The time to speak up is now.”

“What we are doing here socially is worth it,” said speech language pathologist, Elizabeth, about mass protests during the coronavirus outbreak, June 5, 2020. “Hopefully the pandemic keeps going down as this movement gains traction.”
Elizabeth
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“What we are doing here socially is worth it,” said Elizabeth, 30, a speech-language pathologist. “Hopefully the pandemic keeps going down as this movement gains traction.”

“There are people from all walks of life at these protests and that makes me feel like there is hope for change, said writer Asiya Wadud during an anti-police brutality protest outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, June 5, 2020.
Asiya Wadud
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“Of course this movement is about all the black people that have been murdered in cold blood, but it’s also about the systemic issues festering at the foundation of his country,” said Asiya Wadud, 38, a writer who teaches poetry to children,

“Finally, I feel there’s this momentum building and people are coming together in ways I’ve never seen before.”

“This is the second war that I’m fighting; I’m fighting in the hospital and out here on the street," said Cameron, a registered nurse, June 5, 2020.
Cameron
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Before posing for a photograph, Cameron used his nursing skills to help a protester who was feeling unwell.

“This is the second war that I’m fighting. I’m fighting in the hospital and out here on the street,” said the 29-year-old registered nurse.

“Frankly, I’d rather lose my life from a natural cause than see one of my brothers be killed,” said Ngozi, a contract coordinator and paralegal who was protesting police brutality outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, June 5, 2020.
Ngozi
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Ngozi, a paralegal, said she couldn’t enter her apartment building across from the Barclays Center during the first three days of the curfew without showing her ID to an NYPD officer.

“I felt targeted ... I felt mentally and physically trapped,” said Ngozi, 25. “I hadn’t been on my feet because of my asthma but that forced me to take control of the situation to empower myself.”

“With Covid I haven’t been working,” said prop-stylist, Jennifer, outside her car, which was filled with supplies for protesters June 5, 2020.. “So it was either help out with a cause you believe in or sit at home watching Netflix. The choice was very clear for me.”
Jennifer
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

With work for her nonexistent during the pandemic, Jennifer, a prop stylist, decided to use her vehicle to give out supplies.

“It was either help out with a cause you believe in or sit at home watching Netflix,” said Jennifer, 33. “The choice was very clear for me.”

“I felt restless watching people around the United State mobilizing from the comfort of my apartment," said musician and Brooklyn native, Mike, outside Borough Hall, June 5, 2020. "We’re all at risk of contracting coronavirus but there’s importance to putting your body for a cause like this.”
Mike
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“I felt restless watching people around the United State mobilizing from the comfort of my apartment,” said Mike, a musician and Brooklyn native. “We’re all at risk of contracting coronavirus but there’s importance to putting your body for a cause like this.”

“The numbers don’t lie, for almost every metric that assesses quality of life you’ll see black people below white people,” said healthcare worker, EZ, left,  who was protesting with friend Ron in Brooklyn, June 5, 2020. “That’s why we are out here getting involved and having our voices heard.”
EZ and Ron
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

“The numbers don’t lie, for almost every metric that assesses quality of life, you’ll see black people below white people,” said EZ, left, a 25-year-old health care worker who was protesting with friend Ron, 28. “That’s why we are out here getting involved and having our voices heard.”

“I’m out here for the next generation and my unborn kids," said medical assistant, Ressie, during a protest outside Brooklyn Borough Hall, June 5, 2020.
Ressie
Hiram Alejandro Durán/THE CITY

Ressie said she felt a connection to something bigger than herself.

“I’m out here for the next generation and my unborn kids,” said the 27-year-old medical assistant.

Campaign 2021

Eric Adams Says Accountant’s ‘Incorrect Decision’ Spawned Faulty Tax Filings

Campaign 2021

Eric Adams’ Townhouse Trouble: Tax Filing ‘Mistake’ and Blown-Off Buildings Inspector

Brooklyn

Sears Closing Brooklyn Store, Its Last Outpost in New York City

View all stories in Brooklyn

Sign up for the newsletter Get THE CITY Scoop

Sign up and get the latest stories from THE CITY delivered to you each morning