Keke Palmer was on the front lines of a peaceful demonstration in Hollywood Tuesday (June 2). The actress spoke passionately to several members of the National Guard who were at the scene, asking them to march alongside protesters and telling them to “be the change” in the fight against racial injustice following the killing of George Floyd. She also spoke on the harmful rhetoric used by President Donald Trump during these times.
In a clip that has now gone viral — posted by NBC News correspondent Gadi Schwartz — Palmer can first be heard addressing a May 29 tweet posted by President Donald Trump in which he wrote “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”
“You have a president talking about the Second Amendment as a use for people to come out here and use firearms against the people protesting. This is the message that we’re seeing,” says Palmer. “You have to pay attention to what’s going on. We have a president that’s trying to incite a race war, and when the borders are closed. We can’t leave. You have people in here that need your help. This is when you and y’all can stand together with the community, with society, to stop the governmental oppression. Period. We need you.”
At that point, one of the solders said, “I agree with you.” She then requested, “March with us. March beside us. Get your people. March beside us. Let the revolution be televised. March beside us and show us that you’re here for us. Let’s just do it. We start marching and you march with us.”
A guard member offered to walk with the group across an intersection, but said they needed to remain at their post. The crowd, many of whom were surrounding the scene with phones up to record the exchange, started cheering, clapping and chanting, “March with us!”
Another soldier then explained that they were not allowed to leave their post due to orders to control that section. It is also important to note that should the officers have abandoned their post they would have faced serious repercussions, including being terminated from their positions.
Another woman then asked the same soldier to “take a kneel,” a request he accepted. Palmer can be heard saying “That ain’t enough for me” and continues to encourage the soldiers to march with the protesters.
Palmer ultimately appeared on The Strahan, Sara, and Keke show this morning (June 3), accompanied by her Good Morning America sister Robin Roberts to explain the importance of her statement. Palmer shared that she wondered why the National Guard officers didn’t just join the protesters when the four armed men approached. By the end of the dialogue, Palmer had convinced them to take a knee, but she doesn’t think that was enough. “Though the kneeling, it can be seen as a walk in the same direction, we all can also see that just moments after, in some of these cities where we’ve seen the kneel, we’ve also seen the teargas and everything, the chaos afterward,” the 26-year-old said. For her, duty isn’t a good enough reason to not stand up to injustice. “I know there’s a person in that uniform and I wanna know that the people that are in these powerful positions of saving or taking a life, I wanna know they’re with the citizens and committed to taking a stand against the system and the injustices,” she said. “And if we are unified, no matter who you are, what you’re wearing, we can create change. Buildings can be rebuilt, but once lives are taken, they’re gone.”