The sun was unforgiving in Miami Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
Despite the 90 degree day, about a hundred people of all ages and races gathered to protest recent deadly police shootings around the country, including those of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile.
“This is a funeral for us,” said Stephanie Aldridge of Liberty City. “Black people are being murdered by police and we are in mourning.”
Tanya James, a former Miami Gardens mayoral candidate, led a prayer before the march to remember the black men and women who had been killed by law enforcement.
The protesters were gathered by Dashana Honore, 26, over Facebook in response to a nationwide call to action regarding police violence. Black Lives Matter protesters marched from Miami Gardens City Hall to area streets chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Black Lives Matter.”
Similar rallies have been held in dozens of cities across the country recently, and there had been plans for several in South Florida this weekend, although most were canceled. South Florida law enforcement was set on edge Friday afternoon after the FBI issued a “credible threat” warning to law enforcement agencies.
At least one protest, planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at Larry and Penny Thompson Park, near Zoo Miami, was called off Friday over fears of violence.
“We have been receiving threats that a movement is planning on hurting cops and white people,” the protest leaders tweeted. “We have said over and over again that we are a peaceful protest and we have nothing to do with violence. It is highly upsetting to see that our movement [along with others] is being associated with violence that we in no way shape or form support.”
Honore, who planned the Miami Gardens rally, has no previous experience organizing protests for any cause, but said social media was a powerful tool to unite communities.
“I would do it again, but I don’t want anyone else to die,” she said. “I don’t want to be put in the position to have to do this again.”
Several police officers were grouped about 30 yards from the protest next to the road. The Miami Gardens Police Department spokesperson declined to comment.
“I’m just tired,” said 19-year-old Bianca Aldridge, who was attending the protest with her mother. “I don’t want to be scared of the police.”
White protesters allied with the Black Lives Matter movement also stood with Honore and the Aldridges.
“White people need to be made aware of what is going on,” said Lorenzo Tambery, 28, an Italian yacht-builder living in Fort Lauderdale. “In America, it appears that everybody is not equal.”
The gathering was small, and Kuwaku James was unsure if anything would change because of it. However, he does not think such protests are futile.
“Just because nothing may come of it doesn’t mean it’s pointless,” said James, 43. “As long as it touches one person’s heart, it matters.”
Miami Herald Staff writer Alex Harris contributed to this report.