On July 10th 1500 Black Lives Matter demonstrators, prepared with flowers and signs with pictures of their loved ones, peacefully marched from Cincinnati’s District One Police Station to Washington Park.
On the week of July 4th America lost two black lives, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Both lost their lives after an encounter with the police, which members of Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati believe had everything to do with race. In order to address the issue they invited members of the community to not only gather together to express their grievances for the lives lost, but to also create a call of action.
“We know that we can no longer continue to exist in a society that kills black people in cold blood,” said Ashley Harrington, a member of Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati. “Our struggles are all connected and we must join together until they recognize that we will not be overlooked”.
Shawna Hedges, a Black Lives Matter demonstrator, claimed that it was extremely important for her to participate in the march because she valued the lives of her family.
“I have five brothers, I have a father, I have a step father, and I have a bunch of uncles, and I refuse to have them become a victim to police brutality,” she said.
Hedges believes that in order to resolve police brutality the community first has to express the importance of black lives. They also have to build a rapport with the police department and make sure that they are following policies that ensure that they are protecting all people, not just some.
Audrey Dubose, mother of Sam Dubose, a black man who lost his life to police brutality, was present at the protest and spoke about her son’s death and the responsibility of the community to speak out about the wrong doings of the law enforcement.
She explained that prior to her son’s death she never thought that he would be victim to police brutality. It was hard enough for her to lose her son but what she claims made it worse was that people were trying to accuse her son of things that never happened.
Ray Tensing, the officer who fatally shot Dubose, accused her son of dragging him while he was in the car. However, Dubose’s mother doesn’t understand why he was shot in his head when he had his hands up in the air.
“This was caught on camera what happened to my son, yet they try to say what happened to my son,” she said. “It’s a troubling thing when people want to be blind.”
Now that she has lost her son she believes that it is her duty to speak out and come up with a resolution.
“Don’t wait until this happens to your own child. Let’s be out here every day if we have to until we get justice,” she proclaimed to the crowd.
Rachel Hollins, another demonstrator, claims that it was her responsibility to participate in the march because she is black. She believes that she, her boyfriend, her two brothers, and her father could all become victims of police brutality. Her solution to ending police brutality is for the law enforcement to implement all new training.
“I believe that the police training should have sensitivity trainings. These trainings should be specialized towards all minorities and especially LBGTQ because they are very vulnerable communities,” said Hollins.
Chief of Police, Eliot Isaac, initially concerned with the safety of the protesters and police, was pleased with the outcome of the protest and believes that the demonstrators conducted themselves in a respectful manor.
“I think it’s a positive thing that people are willing to speak out and be involved and be concerned. There’s a lot to be concerned about,” said Chief Isaac.
He acknowledges that police brutality has been an issue not only around the country, but especially in Cincinnati. He, and the CPD police department are committed to making changes for the betterment of the community.
“There is a lot of progress that has been made in Cincinnati and I think we have a strong foundation to build upon and continue to work on these problems, he said.
Black Lives Matter: Cincinnati will be holding their next public meeting on July 18th at 6:15 pm. The location has not yet been decided but more information can be accessed on their Facebook page: Black Lives: Cincinnati.
[Editor’s note: some estimates for the march were as high as 5,000.]