WACO, TX — As the nation fought off the coronavirus, it also came face to face with a disturbing video of a black man being killed by a police officer.
The peaceful protests in Waco, like others around the country, sought to give voice to a story of injustice. But why the George Floyd story?
Experts say it has a lot to do with the perfect storm of Floyd’s death caught on camera, a pandemic that had us anxious to get outdoors and people less willing to put up with what they called extreme and unnecessary measures.
Some said protests seemed to get bigger and more vocal every day.
But Baylor Professor and Journalism chair Mia Moody-Ramirez stood at the suspension bridge and noticed something about the people in these demonstrations.
"Were they the crowd that you expected? No, they were not. They were young, many of them were still in high school. It was very diverse, I would say, primarily anglo," she said.
Groups not known for marching took to the streets, supported by a flood of social media posts.
What motivated these people to protest the death of George Floyd specifically?
Jo Welter of the Community Race Relations Coalition of Central Texas says the viral video of Floyd weighed heavily on people.
"This just became the tipping point where people had had enough," she explained.
Floyd's death was also accompanied by the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, she says, and it provided the final straw.
"We've had many situations and many events and occurrences, that have made people think about this more regularly, which makes a huge difference," said Welter.
And all those people gathered in the middle of a pandemic, risking their health in a way, for free speech.
"We don't know if it's because of COVID-19, so we do get the sense that this time - it's different," said Dr. Moody-Ramirez.
"A lot of people would not risk going out if it weren't for the real motivation meaning they want to make a difference," added Welter.
The protesters are calling for change after one pandemic helped them see another.
"People get upset, they protest, and then a few weeks later it goes back to the way it was. You know, just when you think there's going to be change," said Moody-Ramirez.
"It's really intolerable and it has become so intolerable that it really is the time, maybe, for change," said Welter.
And while we can change laws and training, changing our attitudes takes effort and time.
"Racism is a pandemic, this is one thing that I've told people, we know that eventually, we will get a cure for the COVID-19 Pandemic, but will we ever have one for racism?" asked Moody-Ramirez.
The George Floyd case has already sparked a police reform bill in congress, and it has brought more discussion of race in this county.