Between 200-300 people rallied in Jacksonville to protest police brutality, racial injustice, and systemic racism in the United States. The large gathering which had food and music throughout the day from 1-4PM Sunday at the corner of Main & Morton saw participation from local clergy, Mayor Andy Ezard, Jacksonville Alderman Brandon Adams, and South Jacksonville Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart.
Leader of the BLM Jax Group Seirra Helmer handed out water bottles and helped spray on sunscreen for people in the 90-degree heat. Mia Perry, one of the rally organizers says that she is going to take up Stewart’s invitation to educate South Jacksonville employees and officials about systemic racism. “She came to me about diversity training, which I believe is a great idea. Small steps. I’m all for small steps. A conversation and maybe some diversity training, I feel will make a huge impact. Some people just don’t understand, and some people just don’t have a person to talk to – to give them the correct light to understand. I’m hoping that’s what we can bring to the forefront when I go to this meeting this week.”
Perry says parents can have simple conversations with their children about the sin of racism. “A good home conversation is a start. Let your children know that everybody is important and everybody should know right from wrong. To hear it, especially from a parent, puts a better understanding on what’s going on in the world. Everything starts at home. Kids soak in anything their parents tell them. Kids tend to believe their parents more than anyone else, so it has to start at home. Talk to your children. Express the love for everybody. Express that everybody is not horrible and hateful. There are horrible, hateful people in the world of every shape, color, and form. Let children know that you should judge someone by what they know and see about that person’s actions. I firmly believe that conversation starts at home.”
Perry says that there are plans for more events and protests and that the BLM Jax group is working on a Juneteenth Celebration in the next few weeks. She says that final details are being made and that the group will publish information to the public about the celebration once they are finalized.
Several media outlets in Central Illinois covered the protest over the weekend despite smaller protests happening at Community Park for the previous few weeks. The BLM Jax Facebook Page, which has now moved to a private group that people must join, has garnered over 1,000 followers since it started on June 1st.
Helmer is expected to have an audience with 100th District Representative C.D. Davidsmeyer on Thursday about what can be done about systemic racism, according to the State Journal Register.
The Jacksonville protest on Sunday mimicked similar-sized protests and events calling for the end of police brutality against the black community and systemic racism around Central Illinois. A “Listen and Love” rally is scheduled for Water Tower Park in New Berlin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.