By Crystal Burns
A trio of young adults peacefully protested the officer-involved deaths of dozens of black men, women, and children that have occurred across the country Wednesday morning in Trenton. They spent the afternoon demonstrating in Dyer and Rutherford.
Displaying signs with the names of 26 people killed by police in the last four decades and messages such as “Black Lives Matter,” “Demilitarize the police,” and “We, the people, have had enough,” the young adults, ages 23 and 21, said they were using their white privilege to amplify the voices of people of color.
“We have the power in this country,” one said.
The three chose not to identify themselves for the newspaper.
Both of the 23-year-olds said they grew up in Gibson County. The 21-year-old has been in Gibson County for about a year.
They said they are upset by the lack of outrage and activism in Gibson County following the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Video shows Chauvin with his knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
(Wednesday afternoon, Chauvin was additionally charged with second-degree murder, and three other officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Those officers were also fired.)
The killing has sparked protests in cities across the country.
“The world is falling apart right now,” one of the 23-year-old protestors said.
She was bothered by her home county “going on like everything is fine,” she said. “it’s not fine.”
“There is nothing about this country that is fair or just or right,” one said.
They demonstrated on the sidewalk in front of the Gibson County Courthouse for about two hours. Before moving on to Dyer, they laid on the ground on their stomachs for nine minutes to signify Floyd’s death – lying in the street on his stomach with his hands secured by his back as Chauvin’s knee pressed against his neck.
The native Gibson Countians say it’s not enough that Chauvin has been charged, saying he should be facing first-degree murder and deserves life in prison. They believe Generation Z now has the burden of reforming the American criminal justice system, economic disadvantages, and society as a whole.
“Generation X stoked the fire. Millennials got tired,” they said, speaking of their own generation. “Generation Z is throwing Molotov [cocktails]. They’re so powerful.”
They expressed disappointment and dismay with the media for dehumanizing black people and a tendency to focus on officer-related shootings from the perspective of law enforcement. They said reporters don’t want to say the names of George Floyd or others killed by officers, instead writing headlines that say, “Black man killed.”
“He wasn’t just a black man,” one said. “He was George Floyd.”
“He was a human being,” another added.
While a couple of passersby hurled insults at them, the protestors said they were largely treated respectfully. People brought them water and Gatorade, and one man told them that their protest made him proud to be an American.
“That made us feel good even though feeling good is not why we’re here,” one protestor said.