“George Floyd can’t breathe! George Floyd can’t breathe!”
“When is enough, enough?”
“No justice, no peace! Prosecute the police!”
These are some of the chants that were heard up and down IL-71 on May 30. A crowd of over 200 people came together to peacefully protest the murder of George Floyd, an African-American man from Minnesota, and to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement. They held up homemade signs and drivers honked every minute as they passed by to show solidarity.
Floyd died while in police custody May 25. Video of the arrest went viral as one officer is seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes and since then, protests and riots have erupted across the country to speak out against police brutality in America. One such protest was scheduled in Chicago on May 30, but not everyone who wanted to attend was able to. Oswego High School graduate Laurie Avila decided to organize another one in Oswego.
“I know a lot of people parents didn’t want them to go to Chicago because of possible dangers,” Avila said. “I just think it’s really, really important for people to have a voice and for people to be able to stand up for what they believe in regardless.”
This drove Avila, who is Hispanic, to organize the peaceful protest next to OHS. She made sure that there would be no violence and everything would be legal.
“We did have someone tell us that the cops were made aware of the , so we obviously called them to address that it’s a peaceful protest and to make sure that we were following all the things that we can to keep it as safe as possible,” said Avila. “We just wanted to make sure we were clear of what we could do and what we couldn’t do.”
Steve Aldrich, a 64 year old white man, joined to show his support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I’m tired of the inequality and systematic racism in America,” Aldrich said. “We’re fortunate in our community for the most part, but I’m not gonna stand for it. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Nicholas Richard-Thompson, a graduate of OHS and a black member of BLM, was there to protest as well.
“I’m very inspired by the students to come out here and engage in the struggle. And this is not something, when I was going here, that would have been possible,” Richard-Thompson said. “That shows that the political consciousness and social consciousness has raised exponentially”
The protest remained peaceful throughout the day and many people showed their support, both in person and through social media. It provided people from throughout the area a space to have their voices heard.
“I know I’m enraged about everything going on and I know a lot of people are enraged here as well,” said Avila. “We need change, and we need justice.”