About 100 people gathered at the Putnam County Courthouse Tuesday, carrying signs, ringing bells and looking for change in America.
Tennessee Tech Student Eli Anderson took to social media with friends to encourage the rally.
“I honestly don’t think it could have gone better,” Anderson said. “It’s exactly what we wanted to see. The community comes together. The community shows support for black voices so their voices can be heard.”
A group of roughly ten people stood at the corner of Jefferson Avenue watching the protest. Their position: all lives matter. One man briefly got physical with some of the protesters as the two sides yelled at one another. He was arrested. A white pickup truck flying a Confederate flag also revved its engine, passing the courthouse several times.
Demetrio Norden said he heard about the rally from friends. He said he would like to see the issues of racism and police violence more openly addressed.
“A systemic change to the rules and just the standards we hold the police departments accountable in America by,” Norden said. “Just getting actual change in legislation.”
Anderson said he would like to see three steps taken by police. They include the elimination of headlocks and kneelocks. Anderson said he would like to see police records placed online so citizens can see officers who have a history of improper procedures. He would also like more clear guidelines for police to follow in all situations.
“I want a change,” Lauren Kelly said. “I’m 21 and I see the same thing growing up. I’m ready for a change. I’m ready to be part of a generation that’s wants something different for each other.
Happy to see the young people sharing their views, local resident Betty Voute handed out signs. She said it feels like the nation has gone back in time.
“I’m 66 years old and this is my fight,” Vaudt said. “In my America, equality matters.”
But Steve Stevens said history has proven Cookeville to be a racially tolerant community. He said those responsible for George Floyd’s death are being brought to justice.
“I understand the injustice that was done,” Stevens said. “There’s not one person that doesn’t say that. The guy that caused the man’s murder is in jail. The other three are waiting to go in jail. Why this is going on? I don’t know. This is ludicrous. We don’t have problems in Cookeville.”