Ana Luiza Jacome/@aluizaphotography
Hundreds gathered at the Carbondale Civic Center on Friday to protest police brutality and demand justice for the death of George Floyd.
Nancy Maxwell, a Rape Crisis Advocate at the Women’s center and NAACP member, said this movement “has been historic.”
“The police are speaking out they have a march in cities that are still considered to this day ‘sundown towns’ this is amazing and I feel like a change is going to come out of it,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell said she is already seeing some good come out of the wave of protests that have been taking place across the nation and one example is that Anna, a town that is often referred to as a “sundown town” hosted a Black Lives Matter Protest.
“10 years ago when I went to McDonald’s in Anna, they wouldn’t serve me and my family, we walked out with nothing. And so to see that march there I almost fell off my chair,” Maxwell said. “I want to see things like that continue to happen until this becomes a better world.”
Maxwell said she cried when she watched the video depicting George Floyd’s death and as a Black mother of three sons, she is still trying to heal.
“Every Black mother in America’s heart broke when they heard him cry out for his mama,” Maxwell said. “It was devastating.”
Carbondale City Council Member Carolin Harvey had a similar reaction to Maxwell when she saw the video.
“I can’t even describe it, as a mother of a 30-year-old child, a male, Black, child, it touches your heart in a way that it’s hard to describe,” Harvey said. “It’s knowing that that could be your child, that could be your child losing their life.”
If people want to see change, they have to be part of that change, Harvey said.
“I encourage everyone here and even those who aren’t to become active in their community, not just registered to vote, but also consider running for an office being on a board, a commission, or even little things like showing up for meetings where decisions are made that affect your life on a daily basis,” Harvey said.
After marching around the strip, protesters gathered at the Carbondale Public Safety Center to hear speeches from participants and organizers.
Kacia Houston, a senior at SIU studying psychology, climbed onto a concrete pillar in front of the building and addressed the crowd. She said in her 20 years of being alive, she never thought that she would have to fight a pandemic and white supremacy at the same time.
“We have a clear message to the police who refuse to stop murdering us, to the Americans who refuse to acknowledge our pain and to the President of the United States who is calling for our deaths. Enough is enough,” Houston said. “We will not be silent. We demand justice for every single Black life stolen by this country and we want it now.”
Houston said they demand not only equality but also equity and that Black lives matter and have always mattered.
“We have begged. We have pleaded, we have asked, we’ve shouted, we’ve cried and now we are demanding,” Houston said. “America, your time is up. We have washed your streets in the blood of my people over and over and over and over again and now the time is up. The time is up America we don’t want a seat at your table. We want to dismantle and rebuild the table.”
Houston said those complaining about the protests should consider how Black people feel.
“If you’re tired of our protests, well, imagine 400 years of being sick and tired. You wouldn’t even come close to the weight, the pain and the anguish Black people feel,” Houston said.
Kierra Greer, a sophomore at SIU studying social work, also addressed the protesters.
“Why will my 3-year-old nephew turn on the T.V. and see a person of his color get killed by cops?” Greer said. “He cries out and says I don’t want that to happen to my mom and dad. Because we tell him to love you and to respect you. What do we tell our kids?”
Greer said she cried knowing George Floyd begged for his life as a cop placed his knee on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
“What does the future hold for Black children? Who do we really have to protect us?” Greer asked.
Travis Washington, SIU alumnus and author of the Hands Up Act, spoke at the event and said his petition has reached over 2 million signatures and he found a state representative to write the legislation.
“I want to tell the House of Representatives, the United States Senate and the United Nations Human Rights Council the Hands Up Act will become law and I will be coming. Because this movement is bigger than me and I want to let Lesley McSpadden know the Hands Up Act will become law. I kept my promise,” Washington said.
Michael Coleman, a Junior at SIU studying Political Science and the organizer for the event, said bringing awareness to this event and cause has already started to create change in the community. He said Sergeant Wilson of the Carbondale Police Department contacted him to schedule a meeting to discuss police brutality and potentially talk about some reforms.
The full speeches at this event can be found on the Daily Egyptian’s Facebook page here.
News Editor Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.
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