Nearly 100 people participated in a Monday evening peaceful protest through downtown Newport to protest racial injustice in the United States. They were escorted from the Newport Community Center to the Cocke County Courthouse.
Newport Chief of Police Maurice Shults said there were no major issues, however, some counter protesters attempted to shout at the protesters, most of whom were young and white.
The counter protesters also revved the engines of their loud trucks in an effort to drown out the chanting protesters.
The protest was organized by Jasmine Fontes, the daughter of Cocke County Sheriff Armando Fontes and his wife.
“My motivation for the protest in Newport is simply we are outraged over the injustices of George Floyd’s death, and the injustices in the system against black people. That’s it in simple terms,” Jasmine Fontes said.
Fontes, in a social media post earlier on Monday, indicated his opposition to his daughter’s involvement, calling her a “disgruntled, misguided daughter.”
About a dozen sheriff’s and police cruisers escorted the protesters, and fire engines from volunteer fire departments in the county, as well as Cocke County EMA Director Joe Esway, lined the protest route.
The participants chanted, “No justice, No peace.”
Placards carried by the protesters included messages such as “One Human Family,” “I Will Never Be On The Side Of The Oppressor,” “I Can’t Breathe” and “You Can’t Be A Christian and a racist.”
As the protesters reached the courthouse, they took a knee for eight minutes in recognition of the time George Floyd was restrained by a Minneapolis, Minnesota Police Department officer prior to his death.
Prior to the protest march, a group of community residents gathered for a prayer meeting on the lawn of the courthouse. The small Cocke County group was made up of a cross-section of ages and races.