contributors: Sophie Johnson, Molly Hatesohl, Cole Billings
On Sunday, May 31, Massachusetts Street in downtown Lawrence was filled with shouts of, “No justice? No peace!” The hundreds of gatherers protested police brutality and racial injustice following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, May 25.
Protests, both violent and peaceful, sprouted across the country since Floyd’s death and silenced the normal content on social media as influencers and their followers tried to show solidarity for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
Protesters and attendees from the May 31, Lawrence protest offered their thoughts on the movement and Lawrence’s peaceful protest.
“The protest allowed those who were marginalized to share their provocative stories. The march allowed people to collectively share their fears, anger, and hope. Being a part of a community that came together to peacefully protest was astounding in a world of violence and chaos. Protesting is one of the most vital tools to provide a checks and balance on oppressive institutions.”
Randy Do [in a message to KJHK]
“To know the city is in support of my color and my people’s lives. Peaceful protests are possible if the masses stay focused and concentrate on what we are there for. It felt beautiful to be a part of it and it was a very empowering moment in my life. It is important to protest and a very valuable tool, but It’s crucial that we remain peaceful throughout the protest. When rage and emotion overcome it is almost impossible to be rational. Rational is where we need the country to be in order for empathy and understanding to take place.”
Evan Thompson [in a message to KJHK]
“I definitely had hesitations about going just considering the state of protests in other large cities across the country, but I recognized immediately that that was my white privilege talking. The worries and hesitations that I had were barely a fraction of the worry and the fear that black people have in our country on a daily basis. That was what made me realize that it was important for me to go, to support black people, be a good ally and to just help to raise our voices against police brutality and racial injustice in our country. Starting at home is the best place to start.”
Kelly Werther [in a phone call with KJHK]
“I could not stand anymore to be another bystander. ‘The time is always right to do what is right,’ [Martin Luther King Jr.] it was time for me to do the right thing. It was inspiring and patriotic to see hundreds of people from all demographics of age, race, gender to come out and exercise the first amendment that this country created peacefully…I was scared about the protest not for the safety of myself, but for the safety of our community and every citizen who was at the risk of being abused from those who only seek chaos. Darkness does not defeat darkness, only light. I want to say thank you to the ones who organized the march, the LPD who allowed us to protest peacefully and every citizen that attended the protest.”
-Logan Fox [in a message to KJHK]
“I went to the protest because it’s one of the least things we can do in showing up for people of color, for our community. The protest in Lawrence, it was great to see an overall peaceful protest and being able to see that go down, but being uncertain of what it’s going to be like, given how most protests seem to be going.”
-Leah Shinkle [in a phone call with KJHK]
“The Lawrence protest demonstrated our community’s commitment to Black Lives and I feel proud and truly alive knowing that. The ability to demand change and justice alongside those oppressed is what makes protests invaluable, regardless of property damage, traffic jams, or other petty circumstances. Protests speak to ideas bigger than us, connecting us to movements of our ancestors and those to come. We got to write a few hours of history and tip the scale toward justice this weekend, and now we must keep building that momentum in love.”
Sarah Hofmeyer [in a message to KJHK]
On Tuesday, University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod released a statement with Provost Barbara Bichelmeyer recognizing the injustices of underrepresented people groups in the Lawrence community and on the university’s campus.
“Our hearts break with yours,” the statement read. “We stand with you and for you.”
The statement reads that the university needs to be at the “forefront of social change,” and outlines five substantial actions the university is making to take more responsibility and move towards social justice.
It also lists resources at the university available to those in need of support or wanting to voice their opinions.