Bloomington-Normal’s Not In Our School group engaged in a peaceful march Thursday evening to honor Black LGBTQ+ victims of police brutality in Maxwell Park.
A crowd of about 70 people gathered to recognize victims of the Black LGBTQ+ community who are often left out of the conversations of police brutality and to shed light on violence toward Black trans people. The group, led by local high school students, wants Black trans victims like Tony McDade, who was killed in the custody of a Tallahassee police officer May 27, Riah Milton, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, Nina Pop, and other victims of violence to be recognized in the national outcry for justice along with other victims.
Organizer Yvin Shin said the goal is to honor those of the community who are unheard and need justice.
“With the intersection of their identities, there’s an added layer of stigma which unfortunately makes people unwilling to talk about them and makes their names erased by the media in general,” Shin said. “In the case of a lot of Black trans people, the added issue of misgendering or using dead names makes it harder for these people to get recognition.”
Other student leaders spoke about the 29 Black LGBTQ+ victims who have been killed this year and made invisible. Calls for attention to the victims on social media has led to All Black Lives Matter protests across the country.
Illinois State University student Deonte Moseley said being a black male and a member of the LGBTQ+ community is hard because of the challenges that come with both groups who are marginalized. But he encouraged the crowd to continue fighting for the safety of Black LGBTQ+ people.
“It’s time that we break down these boxes and recycle them into a permanent change,” he said.
Bloomington High School student Marley Pleines pleaded with non-Black LGBTQ+ members to not only sympathize with the Black trans victims but to empathize with them.
“It is an intense privilege to have to learn about these deaths rather than watch them and feel the pain of them firsthand,” Pleines said. “So we have to choose to feel the anger that witnessing these deaths causes.”
The students also advised the crowd to vote for policymakers that will help spark the change needed to end violence among the Black community. A voter registration booth was present for teens who are 18 or will be by Election Day to register to vote.
The group marched peacefully down Parkside Road up to Linda Lane near Carl’s Ice Cream.
Attendee Angie Larimer said she’s proud of the youth for speaking up for the lives lost to police brutality and violence and that because of them, the country’s future is in good hands.
“I’m a hairstylist and one of my customers had made a comment saying, ‘I’m afraid for our country with the young people.’ And I said ‘No, I’m fine. They got this. They got it covered.' I’m so proud of how everyone is stepping up and taking care of one another and realizing that we’re all people and nobody deserves to be marginalized in any way,” Larimer said.
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