A group of young Saline-area residents are organizing a peaceful protest in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, from 6-8 p.m., Saturday at Henne Field, 105 E. Bennett St.
The group is protesting police brutality, racism and other injustices.
The event will feature music, artists of color and speakers and a march that leaves Henne Field and proceeds into town. At some point during the protest, organizers will call for a moment of silence. People will be asked to kneel, stand, sit or lay down for eight minutes and 46 seconds - the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, causing the cardiopulmonary arrest that killed him.
The protest’s organizers are Regan Cox, Brianna Camero-Sulak, Tess Carichner, Mrinalini Iyer, Brigid Gunnerson, Téa Hajratwala, Ava Hajratwala and Andru Campbell. All are Saline High School students or graduates.
"Our goal is to continue working towards equality and spreading awareness for the injustice that is all around us. We want the community to take away meaningful action and information.” - Brianna Camero-Sulak.
Organizers will distribute flyers with information about racism and which describe ways to support the anti-racism movement.
“We want the community to take away meaningful action and information,” Camero-Sulak said.
Many of the organizers participated in the first protest, which they viewed as a good first step.
“It really brought the community together to not only stand against police brutality, but to stand in unity as well. We have to keep in mind that we must continue to learn more about how to change things in our community, which is a big goal for our protest as we follow up the first one,” Mrinalini Iyer said.
Do they see protests continuing to happen more frequently? Perhaps, said Regan Cox. She said protests can expose the community to activism and help people find a way to make a difference.
“I am very happy to see that so many community members are showing up in support of the protests. I can only hope they will further their support and commit to being anti-racist,” Cox said.
But protests are only part of the equation.
“I think peaceful protests can be a great call to action, but that isn’t all that we can do. We need to continue to educate ourselves and others. Committing to anti-racism work means continuously devoting time and energy to the cause,” Cox said. “We have to continue this work even when the cameras aren’t on us. I mean, you see how quickly national news has died down around protests, but they are still going.”
A protest last month drew around 1,000 people. The young activists are happy to see their hometown, which has been reckoning with its own racism problem, embrace the call against racism.
“Seeing the community show up, it tells us that people in saline are recognizing that change must occur, and it’s crucial that this passion continues,” Iyer said.
Organizers have also surveyed candidates in upcoming local elections and plan to distribute their findings to participants.
"We also want the community more informed about local politics so they can be more involved with what goes on within their own community,” Camero-Sulak said.
Participants are being told to wear masks.
An anonymous donor has donated bottles of water for the protests.
Saline Police Chief Jerrod Hart said he’s been in contact with organizers who’ve assured him it will be another peaceful protest. Hart said police will monitor the protest to ensure public safety.
The school district is permitting organizers to use Henne Field, Hart said.