With signs and their voices, Washington residents peacefully protested downtown Wednesday night.
Over 50 people attended the peaceful protest. From 7 to around 9:30 p.m., participants chanted and held signs while making laps around the square as well as making stops at the Washington Police Department, the republican headquarters, the courthouse and the corner of West Madison Street and South B Avenue.
The protest was one of many protests taking place throughout the country after 46-year-old black man George Floyd was killed by now former-Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin while bystanders recorded the interaction on May 25. Floyd was taken into custody after officers responded to reports from a grocery store suspecting Floyd used a counterfeit $20 bill. In the video, Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” as his neck was pinned to the ground by Chauvin’s knee.
Riordan Lujano, one of the attendees, said the protest was to bring awareness to what is happening in the country.
“Even though Washington is a small community, all these people came out and banded together to show our support,” Lujano said. “To show the injustice in the criminal justice system right now.”
Many different chants were yelled such as “black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe,” “hands up, don’t shoot,” and “George Floyd.” Handmade signs were scattered throughout the crowd with phrases such as “Black Lives Matter,” “End the Brutality,” and “We are the Movement.”
Ashley Tripplett, one of the organizers for the event, said the event was important to have their voices heard and end police brutality.
“I felt like there’s a lot of black people here and I have a mixed baby and our voices need to be heard,” Tripplett said. Tripplett also said she enjoyed seeing the younger generation noticing and acknowledging the brutality.
Cars drove by, honking and waving to the protesters in support, receiving cheers and “thank you” from the protesters. With a high of 86 degrees, a few people handed out bottles of water and the group stopped a few times to cool off.
High school students Mary Larrimore and Analiz Bernabe attended the protest to make a difference.
“It’s your family, it’s your friends, it’s everybody you care about, people you love passing away in front of your eyes just because of ignorant people,” Larrimore said.
Bernabe said police and government are using their authority to pursue their “racist wants.”
“It’s important that we start making a change so that the right people are put away and not innocent people,” Bernabe said.
Larrimore said this is more than just Floyd — there are multiple people and it keeps happening.
Bernabe and Larrimore said the government and people’s minds need to change to make a difference.
“People need to get rid of the stereotypes they have against people of color and we all need to love each other based off the soul and not the color of our skin,” Bernabe said.
The Washington Police followed behind the protesters making sure everyone was being safe.
Police Chief Jim Lester said the protest was overall a good event and from the beginning, they were told by the organizers it was going to be a peaceful event.
“I think everything went well, the protesters had time to express themselves and they were compliant with what we asked them to do,” Lester said. “We just wanted to make sure they were being safe.”
Tripplett also said the event went very peacefully and was exactly what she wanted.