As 60,000 Houstonians marched on Tuesday afternoon to honor the life of George Floyd, one area bartender was there to make sure protesters were hydrated, fed and taken care of.
Bevin Biggers, who works at Taste Bar + Kitchen, rented a U-Haul truck on Tuesday and stationed herself at various spots downtown to hand out more than 10,000 bottles of water, several hundred snack packs, and first aid kits to people marching with George Floyd’s family.
Floyd is a longtime Houstonian who was killed by Minneapolis police last week. Derek Chauvin, the officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, has since been charged with second-degree murder. Since Floyd’s death, demonstrations against police brutality have taken place in several cities across the globe; Houston’s demonstration on Tuesday was particularly large in part because of Floyd’s connection to the city.
Biggers said she first got the idea to work the protest after a photo of hers on social media started going viral. In the photo, which Biggers first posted five years ago, she holds a sign that reads, “We live in a world where cops can panic and act on impulse, but untrained citizens must remain calm with a gun in their face.”
“It’s a photo from a protest that goes viral every time someone gets killed by a cop,” Biggers said. “When I know that I’m going viral, I know what it’s for: Somebody got killed.”
The bartender, who also volunteers with several criminal justice reform organizations, said she leverages the image when it goes viral to ask for donations for various causes. Earlier this week, she decided to ask for donations to take care of the protesters Downtown.
“I thought it was gonna be like 200 bucks, total $300. I ended up with like $1,500 bucks,” she said. She got the idea to rent the U-Haul while at Costco buying pallets of bottled water, where she eventually ended up with around 10,000 bottles of water.
“My little car was not gonna fit $1,500 worth of water. I had so much water in this U-Haul.” Biggers also bought first aid kits, poster-making supplies, and snacks to hand out to marchers. She and her boyfriend spent the night before the protest making hundreds of snack packs — packaging together oranges, nuts and other food in plastic baggies.
On Tuesday, with the help of two fellow bartenders, she stationed herself across the street from The Grove at Discovery Green and announced on social media that she had supplies for those at the demonstration. As marchers moved through Downtown on their way to City Hall, she followed, parking the truck wherever she could.
On Tuesday, temperatures in Houston swelled to 90 degrees, and during a live broadcast of the march on KHOU, one woman in the crowd passed out due to apparent heat exhaustion. “We gave out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of bottles at the protests,” Biggers said. “People really needed it. I mean, I got dizzy because it was so hot outside.”
Biggers said the donations were a way for people who might not have been able to march to show their support anyway. “The people who donated, you were at the protest technically — you have contributed.”
According to Biggers, she’s also currently working on a voter registration how-to guide for the service industry. Her next project is a challenge to every bar and club in Houston to set up voter registration booths ahead of Texas’s primary election, set for July 14.