Hundreds of protesters gathered in Hardesty Park in Akron in response to the recent death of George Floyd and all of those killed due to police brutality. The demonstration was organized by Megan Fenn, an Akron resident, and members of her family to raise awareness, educate the community and make a change.
“It’s time to stand up and do something,” Fenn said during a speech.
Organizers provided food, water and materials to make signs for attendees. A 50/50 raffle was also held, and the money is to be donated to a cause related to the issue, which was undetermined at the time.
Community members, including pastors and Akron City Council Ward 8 councilman Shammas Malik, addressed the crowd on topics including voter turnout and solidarity.
“We have to change the way we see each other,” Malik said.
Malik wants to work toward declaring racism as a public health crisis as well as improving the police system.
“I think it’s important that people have a forum to express all the feelings they have right now about what’s going on,” Malik said. “I’m never going to understand what it feels like to be a black person in this country, but I can see the hurt in the faces and in the voices of so many people, and I think it’s important for all of us to hear that, and to see that, and to act on that.”
Multiple calls-to-action were presented by organizer Candice Braham, who is a recent graduate of the University of Akron. She said she dedicated a lot of her studies to the issue of systematic racism.
“Police are enforcing legislature, and that’s where it has to start,” Braham said. “Our voice does not stop here. This is only part of the process.”
Braham urged those who care about these issues to vote, to write legislators and public officials, to research the politicians they are voting for and to get involved with the community to work together.
After multiple speakers, the crowd paraded its way down Market Street. Chants, including “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “No justice, no peace,” and “I can’t breathe,” were shouted among the protestors. Car horns were constantly blaring from those driving by, and protest members held their signs up high for all to see. Fists were raised out of car windows in solidarity with those that were marching.
After returning to Hardesty Park, a candlelight vigil was held as organizers read the names of those who died due to police brutality. The crowd repeated the names as their voices echoed throughout the park.
Kelsey Paulus is a reporter. Contact her at email@example.com.