Sully Barrett

Sully Barrett captures photos of the September 26 March for Justice rally in Nashville.

In the latest protest against racial injustice, hundreds of people marched Saturday through the streets of downtown Nashville in response to the lack of charges filed against the Louisville officers involved in the killing of Breonna Taylor.

Photographer Sully Barrett, a 20-year-old Brentwood resident, has been going to the protests over the summer to document the movement.

“It's important for me to get the word out, the real word, about what's going on here,” Barrett told the Home Page. “I don't come out here for 30 minutes every night, take photos and leave. I believe in this cause.”

The killing of Breonna Taylor

Taylor, an ER technician living in Louisville, Kentucky, was shot and killed on March 13 after Louisville Police executed a search warrant on her residence.

Believing Taylor’s apartment — which she shared with her boyfriend — to be receiving drug packages, three Louisville Police officers forced themselves inside the residence. Taylor’s boyfriend opened fire on the intruders, striking one officer in the leg, after which police fired more than 20 shots in return, striking Taylor five times.

It was on Wednesday that a state grand jury indicted one of the officers with endangerment. The lack of murder, manslaughter or any other charges directly related to Taylor's killing is what sparked protests across the country.

The March for Justice

Gathering at the Legislative Plaza across from the State Capitol Building, hundreds of Tennesseans could be seen preparing for their march through downtown Nashville, including Broadway.

sDXOl0Vw.jpeg

Hundreds gather at the Legislative Plaza in preparation for the march towards Broadway.

Having documented the unrest since the onset of the George Floyd protests, Barrett was at the plaza, camera in hand, photographing the large crowd and handful of guest speakers.

After about an hour of speeches from the likes of State Sen. Brenda Gilmore and State Rep. Mike Stewart, among others, protesters began their march down Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard toward Broadway.

As the hundreds of people marched, Barrett could be seen darting from spot to spot in front of the protesters, capturing photos and video. Barrett said he was inspired by the first protest after the death of George Floyd.

“I was up in East Tennessee the day before the first Nashville protest that happened on May 30, five days after George Floyd was killed,” Barrett said. 

“I was lying in bed at 1 a.m. and I saw a poster circulating online for the first protest — at that moment, I knew that if I didn't go to that first protest then in Nashville, I was never going to get up and do something.”

It was after the George Floyd rally, Barrett said, that he joined in helping support the still-ongoing protest in front of the State Capitol Building, dubbed the People’s Plaza movement.

“From then on, I came to protest, to participate, to take photos [and] videos,” Barrett said. 

“June 12 was the first day people showed up to the people's plaza, and right from the start, you could tell it was different; it wasn't rage, it wasn't frustration, they were setting up for something big.”

Protesters soon descended upon Broadway, with thousands of bar-goers, Nashvillians and tourists watching the march as it headed down the popular strip. At the intersection of Broadway and 4th Avenue, protesters formed a large circle as patrons at the nearby Honky Tonk Central looked on with curiosity.

B8FC0E1B-DEC5-4531-BAD5-B5B6500689C9.jpeg

Protesters form a circle in the middle of Broadway and 4th Avenue.

“Stay uncomfortable Broadway, because this is not the end,” shouted Gabriel Baden, one of the lead organizers of the protest. “Broadway belongs to the people, and we’re not going to stop ‘till we’re equal!”

Protesters continued their march down Broadway, receiving in equal parts support and scorn, with short-lived verbal arguments breaking out occasionally between protesters and bar-goers.

9D8E0F89-3130-4790-8FDC-31BEB9E09038.jpeg

Some of those enjoying Broadway's bars and restaurants Saturday shouted expletives at passing protesters.

Toward the end of the march, Barrett reflected on what Saturday’s march, along with the entirety of protests in response to racial inequality, might look like in years to come.

“I'm thinking about what's going to be happening a year from now, 10 years, 50 years from now,” Barrett said. 

“If I'm still here, are people going to be talking about this movement the same way they talk about Martin Luther King Jr., the same way they talk about Malcolm X? Back then, they called them thugs, now, they call them peaceful. They look back to them and say that's what we should be doing now, and they remain sitting.”

The march concluded at the State Capitol Building, with protest organizers sharing a few final words — as well as a moment of silence — about and for Breonna Taylor.

The country is radically split when it comes to recent protests, mostly along partisan lines, with Tennessee being no exception.

sZ6xDyeQ.jpeg

Sully Barrett of Brentwood, 20.

It was after the march that Barrett shared a message to those from his home community of Brentwood, as well as the entirety of Williamson County who might have a negative or apathetic view of recent protests.

“The people being killed in the streets, in their homes [or] in their beds, they don't look like me, they didn't grow up the way I grew up,” Barrett said. 

"Anyone who's arrested, anyone who is killed by the state, the police, the government... these people are just like you. I would encourage the people of Brentwood and Williamson County to look back at their own lives, and say if I was killed by police tomorrow. What would people think of me? What would people say I did wrong?”

Warning: The following video contains explicit language.