More than 50 people marched through some of Bloomington’s more affluent neighborhoods Monday calling for justice and unity in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis.
Organized by Dominique Stevenson, demonstrators met at the north entrance of Tipton Park and marched through several blocks in the nearby neighborhood.
Stevenson said it was important for the march to be held in that specific area because it is home to people who are more fortunate — and it could spark their curiosity.
“In many cases, people with money don’t understand the struggles faced by people of color or low-income families in general,” he said. “I figured, if they see and hear us it will raise awareness and make them interested in finding out more.”
Chanting “Black Lives Matter,” followed by “I am somebody,” demonstrators were peaceful as they held up signs and marched through the streets.
“The residents of these areas have the influence and status to help us bring forth the long-lasting changes that we desire, in order to prevent mistreatment and isolation in the future,” said Stevenson, who is also a musician performing as V8 Vast Change. He performed at a WGLT Stay At Home Concert earlier this spring.
“It's going to take a lot of people being patient and willing to stand up peacefully against those that don't understand why we're doing what we're doing,” he said. “As long as we can be peaceful and bold with a militant personality, I believe we'll see change.”
In the midst of the march, some residents of the neighborhood stood on their porch and held up fists in solidarity.
For one Bloomington resident, Jonathan Altom, joining the march was special because he was adopted by African American parents and wanted to find a way to speak up for the cause.
“It filled me with a different kind of energy. I'm 43 days into addiction recovery and this is the best high I've ever had,” Altom said.
“It means the world to me to know that the family I grew up with ... (their) voices are being heard,” he added. “They're still down in Texas, but this is me raising my voice for them as I let them know there are people who love and support, whether they’re here or not."
The group marched from 6:30 until about 9 p.m. At one stop, Illinois State University student and spoken word performer Naudia Williams recited a poem called “Black Boy Magic.”
"Black boy be shotgun heard around the world!" she recited.
Williams said the poem was meaningful for the protest because the cause hit home.
“My father and younger brother both experienced police brutality while I was still in high school," said Williams. "This piece was really written for them because of what happened and because all of us have a George Floyd in our family. Whether he's your father, uncle, or brother."
As the march reached its end, demonstrators formed a circle in the lot of the park for prayer. Making plans for the future, Illinois State Impact student leader Dashea Crockett said her hope is that the group's effort brought awareness to the community.
“I hope this brings unity with the police and awareness to people of privilege that we do experience police brutality and racial and justice in this town and all across the country,” said Crockett. “We stand for not only the country on behalf of George Floyd, but against injustice for all black people, because black lives do matter.”
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Jun 2, 2020 at 6:56am PDT
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