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Saturday, June 13, 2020

PHOTOS: Highlands Graduate Organizes March at Tower Park

Almost 200-300 people marched down S. Fort Thomas Avenue towards the City of Fort Thomas building where the police station is located on Saturday as a part of a protest.

By Jessie Eden

A Black Lives Matter protest took place on Saturday afternoon at Tower Park. The event, which drew approximately 200-300 people, was organized by 2020 Highlands graduate Ella Barnes.

Ella organized the event as a result of some Facebook comments made on a recent article about two Fort Thomas mothers who hosted a moment of silence for George Floyd in Fort Thomas.

The Protest

Attendees at the event were reminded by organizers to space out and wear masks. There were three speakers -- Ella Barnes, Kameryn James and Aprina Johnson -- who spoke at the portion of the protest held at Tower Park. The crowd chanted and sang songs. A statement by Hiren Lemma, the VP of the Highlands 2020 Graduation class, was also read by Ella.

Kameryn James speaks to the crowd at Tower Park.

The crowd then marched in the right lane of the street all the way to the City of Fort Thomas building where the police station is located.

People held signs, yelled chants as they marched. Several different homes along the route set up sidewalk water stations for those marching and handed out free water.

A mother and her two sons passed out waters to protesters passing by during the march.

Once at the police station, the crowd was asked by police to stay in the right lane and not block the fire department doors, which they complied. There were several other chants and then the crowd knelt and held a moment of silence for George Floyd. It lasted over 8 minutes.

The crowd held a moment of silence for 8 minutes for George Floyd outside the police station.

At the end of the protest, some speakers shared a few more stories and then organizers shared some resources for people.

In a short interview with Ella before the march, she went into more detail on why she decided to plan it;

Highlands 2020 grad Ella Barnes speaks to the crowd at Tower Park before the march.
(Img: Chris Eden)

FTM: What made you decide to organize this event?

ELLA: So, this was a very last minute plan. A few days ago I actually read the story on the other vigil that a few moms put together for George Floyd.

I thought it was awesome and I was curious what people's responses were to it, so I found myself reading the comments. I was overwhelmed with the amount of people who left nasty comments about the event. I found myself really angry and frustrated with our community because of how many had turned a blind eye to what is going around the country. 

In a city that is about 96% white it would be really easy for us to ignore the movement and continue on with our life as if racism is not alive in our city. However, we still have black members in our community and as our city becomes more diverse it's important that we don't let those members of our community feel forgotten or unwanted. We have the privilege to raise our voices and make change in our small town.

I want black people to walk through this town and know that they will have our love and support. Just because the issue is not right in front of our face does not mean we should turn around and ignore it. 

Aprina Johnson speaks to the crowd at Tower Park.

FTM: What do you want people to take away from this experience? 

ELLA: I want people to know that when we say black lives matter it is because we recognize that black lives are valuable and they need our help to obtain equality in a society that was built on racism. The best analogy I have heard is if a house is on fire then the fire department isn’t going to pour water on the house that is not on fire, they will pour water on the house that needs the help. It doesn’t mean that other house isn’t valuable it just means our attention and resources need to go to the house that is burning.

After this march we are not stopping here. We must act on our actions. No matter how big or small. If you hear a friend or family make a racist joke or use a racial slur call them out. If you do not understand why black people are dying in this country at a much high rate than white people research. Educate yourself. 

I want the non-black members of our community to reflect on how they can not only be non-racist, but anti-racist and help shift the deep rooted racism that still exists in our society by educating themselves and having those "uncomfortable" conversations about race. By marching through the middle of town and getting loud we can wake Fort Thomas up and show them there is a world outside of this city that needs our support.

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FTM: Who spoke at the event?

ELLA: Hiren Lemma (Highlands Class of 2020) is writing a speech for one of us to share because she cannot be there and Kameryn James (Highlands Class of 2021) will also be speaking. I will be sharing some resources at the end of the protest!


(Img: Chris Eden)

The crowd spreads out at Tower Park. Organizers repeatedly reminded people to wear masks and space out.

(Img: Chris Eden)

(Img: Chris Eden)

The protest leaves Tower Park.
The march, escorted by police, comes around the bend on S. Fort Thomas Avenue. 

The protesters take 8 minutes of silence for George Floyd.

The protesters stretched from the city building down towards Fort Thomas Coffee.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, Ella. It was a joy to be a part of this, and to see so many good community members supporting this effort.