WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Demonstrators held a vigil in North Carolina to demand justice for a Black man who died days after his arrest following the release of body camera videos that showed the man struggling with guards and yelling he couldn’t breathe as they restrained him.
More than 70 participants used their phones as flashlights and sang songs during the vigil for John Neville in Winston-Salem Wednesday night, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.
Neville's son, Tremaine Stubbs, spoke to the crowd about parts of the footage released on Wednesday that showed Neville, calling for this mother. “There is no reason that a grown man should be calling for his mama when she is no longer with us,” Stubbs said. “I can’t breathe man," he added. "My daddy is gone for no reason.”
His father died at a hospital of a brain injury on Dec. 4, three days after his arrest on a warrant accusing him of assaulting a woman. The struggle with the guards happened while he was booked in Forsyth County jail. Five former jail officers and a nurse were charged last month with involuntary manslaughter in his death.
“White supremacy continues to have its way in this city, in this state, in this country and in this world,” Terrance Hawkins, an activist in the city, said. “We want justice, and we want it now.”
Hawkins said he was disturbed it took the Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office months to bring charges in Neville’s death and to release the jail video. A Black Lives Matter chapter in the city had called for the video’s release for months, but Neville’s family opposed making the footage public until last week.
The group apologized to the family last week for not respecting their initial wishes.