Tysons, VA

(Updated 9:15 a.m.) Hundreds of people chanted and marched in a Black Lives Matter protest led by six McLean High School students on Wednesday.

The protest kicked off around 2 p.m. in the parking lot of McLean High School with passionate speeches from students across Fairfax County and local elected officials calling on students and adults to fight racism.

“It’s kind of crazy I have to tell people I shouldn’t be killed, but here we are,” one student speaker said, later adding: “I don’t want my last words to be, ‘Don’t shoot.'” I want them to be, ‘We did it.'”

The speeches touched on a common theme: the fervor of youth activism.

“Our generation is the one that is going to change the world for the better,” Kendall J., a rising senior at McLean High School, told the crowd. Speakers encouraged parents to better support their kids’ activism.

People with voter registration forms circulated the crowd, encouraging teens about to turn 18 to vote in the upcoming elections.

For safety precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic, participants tried to social distance by spacing themselves out in the parking lot. Face coverings were required, and an organizer cleaned the microphone between each speaker.

Participants shouted chants like “No justice! No peace! No racist police!” and “Black Lives Matter!” At one point, the participants responded to a prompt of saying “I love you” to the people standing closest to them.

After a short prayer moment, the protesters took to the streets, flooding Clearview Drive around 4 p.m. “There are so many people here,” one of the organizers said into his walkie talkie as the march began.

“No justice. No peace. No racist police,” a young child with an adult on the corner of Westmoreland Street and Clearview Drive said as the march headed northbound on Westmoreland Street. Several drivers honked and waved in support.

Tysons Reporter witnessed a moment that punctured the peaceful and passionate protest: a white male driving by the protesters on Westmoreland Street shouted out his window that all lives matter and that they should “cut the bullsh*t.”

The protest was one of several anti-racism events in the Tysons area sparked by George Floyd’s death and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Like several protests and rallies in Falls Church, the McLean protest drew a diverse crowd spanning different generations and races.

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