Elkin-based Yadkin Valley Community Matters, which organized a five-hour “Black Lives Matters” protest event Saturday in Elkin, issued a press release Monday saying the group was started last week “to promote peace, unity and justice” and empower each person in the Yadkin Valley “to have and use their voice.”

The release said Saturday’s event showed that many like-minded individuals live across the Yadkin Valley and have the strength to speak out and demonstrate that the words, “Liberty and Justice, for All,” mean something.

It said a smaller event in Elkin on June 2 led to Yadkin Valley Community Matters being organized and the larger event Saturday, with peaceful protests being the objective of both.

After people attending the June 2 protest expressed interest in holding a larger “Black Lives Matter” protest, West Caudle of Elkin asked Elkin Mayor Sam Bishop that evening what Yadkin Valley Community Matters needed to do to accomplish this.

“Mayor Bishop stated that we all have a First Amendment Right to gather and all that was asked was a courtesy contact with Town Manager Brent Cornelison,” the release stated. Caudle contacted Cornelison the next day and shared plans for the protest event held Saturday. “Mr. Cornelison was supportive, understanding and encouraging of the plan,” the release said.

“The plan conveyed to Mr. Cornelison was to hold a peaceful stationary protest in the community green space at the corner of Market Street and Bridge streets in downtown Elkin, as well as offer the opportunity for those who wished to march… in a safe and peaceful manner.” A route for a protest march, mostly on Main Street, was planned in the meeting.

The event began about 10 a.m. Saturday with a crowd of around 200 people hearing opening remarks from Caudle and a prayer from the Rev. Wallice Hairston. The protest march followed, with about 100 participants. It was promoted as an event "for neighbors" in Surry, Wilkes, Yadkin and Alleghany counties.

“We would like to express a heartfelt thank you to the Elkin Police Department and Chief Monroe Wagoner, the Elkin Fire Department and Chief Kevin Wilson, the Jonesville Police Department, Surry County Emergency Services and the Surry County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Steve Hiatt” for their support and assistance with the event, the release said.

“We cannot thank the community members and the public servants enough for a successful event on Saturday and we look forward to more peaceful, powerful, and unifying events moving forward.”

Details of future events planned by Yadkin Valley Community Matters will be on the organization’s Facebook page. The release said these include a Juneteenth Community Awareness and Unity March planned June 20. Details will be available soon.

Juneteenth commemorates slaves being declared free by President Abraham Lincoln with his Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War.

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