Protests continued around the region and the country this weekend, calling attention to police brutality against Black people. Some of these events are being organized by teens and young adults. WCAI's Kathryn Eident talked with 17-year-old Jocelyn Tompkins, a Sturgis Public Charter School student who helped organize a protest last week in Buzzards Bay that drew hundreds of people.
Eident Tell me, what inspired you to get out there and to talk in public about these issues?
Tompkins So, having people on social media only seeing the negative side of the things that are going on in the world, I wanted to have a positive side, and I wanted to organize with my group. I wanted to make sure that there are peaceful protests out there. And I wanted to actually, like, show people that it doesn't always have to be violent. I agree that's honestly that's sometimes the only way to be heard. But with my heart, I could not be out there in any type of violence.
So, I wanted a safe place for young kids like me, and young adults to go and, you know, support, but not be scared that it's all going to turn to violence. Because, I had the chief, and we all had a few other officers too, be on our side, taking a knee with us, supporting us, walking around. You know, they weren't out there to control anything. They were out there to be with us. And that's where I wanted to show. Yes, there is police brutality. I'm not lying about that when I say that there is some. But these cops that I met, I truly knew in their heart that they were good cops and that they wanted to show that they were supporting us the entire time and they were being there as people with us.
Eident How did you get the word out to folks? There were hundreds of people who showed up.
Tompkins We created a flier and we posted it all over social media. And we actually created an Instagram, where we sent people to go and actually view information from it. And, a lot of people shared it and re-posted on Facebook and everyone emailing us. And it just went viral, basically on Cape Cod.
Eident How did that make you feel?
Tompkins Honestly, I was, like, stunned. I was so amazed because out of nowhere I got a call from the chief of police of Bourne and he told me that, "oh, how many are you expecting?" I was like, "oh like maybe 100." And then he was like, "oh, no, we're expecting about 500 to 800."
And my eyes, like, you should see my facial expression. I was speechless, honestly. And the place suggestion, it came from the people. Honestly, we wanted in a place where everyone was safe and also be seen and we felt that Buzzards Bay Park was enough space for hundreds of people to come, and it was also on the street where passing cars could see us.
Eident What do you want to see change as a result of protests like yours?
Tompkins Honestly, I just hope that the government, everyone, sees that there is a problem, and instead of being silent about it, I really just want us to be heard and understood. And, I want a change in the world. I don't want this to just all die down and then just like, you know, continue on our regular life. I want there to be change. The justice system needs to be rebuilt. And, I think with these protests and people actually sharing that and not being silenced is the best way to be heard. And that's exactly what I intended to do.
Eident Did anyone from your family participate?
Tompkins Oh, completely. My mom, my father, my little brother, my sister was there, also, my older brother was there supporting me on the sidelines. They were all holding signs and they truly inspired me to do as much as I am doing. They told me to make sure that my voice is heard and every single time that I was wanting to say something. And they knew I did. They told me to get out there and say it. And, that's exactly what I did.
Eident Are there more events or actions planned?
Tompkins We want to have a few more, especially in our names, so people know that it was young adults who created these and that it's on us to do things for the future.
Eident Jocelyn, thanks so much for talking with me. Stay safe.
Tompkins Thank you so much. Thank you for calling me and recognizing us as a group. I really do appreciate it.
This transcript was lightly edited for grammar and clarity.