Black Lives Matter protest held on Loop by UCity Action Network
A group of about 30 mostly white University City residents took part in a Black Lives Matter march around the Delmar Loop, stopping at the Chuck Berry statue outside of Fitz’s for a short rally on Saturday afternoon around 2:30 p.m..
Margaret Johnson, 75, of the University City Action Network (UCAN), said it was intentional that most of the participants were white.
“The beauty of this particular action is that white people are first of all shocked to see somebody wearing a Black Lives Matter T-shirt or chanting, having a demonstration and we were mostly white, but the looks on African-American faces, particularly young people—when they see that, they just are so happy to see that white people care about them, because they think that white people don’t. And they have a lot of reason to believe that,” Johnson said.Johnson wanted to stress that it was vital to involve white people in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Black people understand racism quite well, from our perspective [the Black Lives Matter movement is meant] to get white people talking about it and beginning to understand that racism is really our issue to solve, that we’re the ones who have to step up because we’re the ones who benefit from racism,” Johnson said.
She also said that the protest was scheduled to take place this weekend to coincide with the presidential debate being held on campus.
“The reason why there’s such an incredible backlash against this, and the reason why [Republican presidential candidate Donald] Trump is the Republican nominee, which still shocks me, is that white men have been in control for so long that they can’t deal,” Johnson said. “If you look at the policies and histories, this kind of embedded racism is still going on, and this whole thing about voter IDs, it’s just another way to eliminate people from the voting role that aren’t going to vote for someone like Trump. It’s just pervasive.”
Rhonda Wren, also with UCAN, said that the group had been present at several protests and marches after getting together during the events in Ferguson in 2014 and was trying to make changes at a local level.
“We’ve been out in the streets working, protesting, doing things, meeting with our police chief and other things here in UCity,” Wren said. “Citizen review boards is something we would really like to see—right now our police chief makes all the decisions, hiring and firing…There’s no citizen review board.”
Additional reporting by Ella Chochrek and Lizzi Kehoe.