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Article Published June 10, 2020

BLM in Branford: Peaceful Protest, Powerful Message

By Pam Johnson/

On June 7, a peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protest gathered hundreds on the Branford Green to take part in sending a powerful message against racism, hatred, and injustice.

The protest was organized using social media by Branford resident Gillian Basilicato. Branford Police assisted with crowd control during the peaceful gathering. Participants arrived at the 1 p.m. start time and large crowd of all ages quickly grew. Most brought signs they’d made especially for the event and carried during a march from the green.

During the gathering on the green, a megaphone loudspeaker was used to share several moving speeches in front of Branford’s Town Hall, where black banners had been wrapped around three columns. The banner messages read “Black Lives Matter,” “No Justice, No Peace,” and depicted a raised fist.

Speaking to Zip06/The Sound as the event got underway, Basilicato said she was gratified by the response and the visible signs of support being shown by those who came out to rally for the cause of BLM.

“It’s really big turnout. I’m just really proud of the town of Branford,” said Basilicato. “I’m happy that people are showing up and showing out.”

One of the most powerful speakers of the day was Roberta Gill-Brooks, who is currently serving her second consecutive elective term as Branford’s tax collector. She’s also the daughter of retired Branford Chief of Police Robert Gill, who served 45 years with the department before his retirement in 2007.

In one moving moment, Gill-Brooks, circled by a crowd around the front of Town Hall, asked everyone gathered to try to imagine re-living the horror and unjust death of George Floyd, which was caused by four Minneapolis police on May 25. Floyd’s death, captured on video seen around the world, has led millions to join BLM protests calling for dramatic and immediate change.

Gill-Brooks asked Branford’s BLM protesters to, before laying down to rest that night, set their smartphone stopwatches to 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time during which Floyd was killed as he lay handcuffed on the ground, while an officer pressed a knee on his neck.

“Imagine being face down, on the ground, handcuffed, chest on the pavement, with a knee in your neck,” Gill-Brooks implored. “Eight minutes and 46 seconds. There is no reason why anyone should suffer that at the hands of anyone.”

The crowd then joined Gill-Brooks in chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “I am the Change. You are the Change. We are the Change.”