By Taylor Howard
On Monday afternoon, Champaign-Urbana residents and University of Illinois students marched through streets to raise awareness for the death of George Floyd and police brutality across the nation.
Protestors gathered at the Champaign County Courthouse on Main Street at 3 p.m. and marched, chanting “no justice, no peace” and “say their name.”
The march was sponsored by HV Neighborhood Transformation, an organization dedicated to stopping violence in local neighborhoods. Although the organizers of the protest were African Americans, a diverse group of people came out to support the march and the movement.
HVNT Co-founder Rita Conerly said she believes that everyone recognizes the importance behind the rally.
“I think people in their heart know that what has been going on as far as the racial injustices, especially against African Americans is wrong,” Conerly said.
HVNT and university activists led protestors through the streets of Champaign-Urbana. Demonstrations took place at several intersections where protestors kneeled on the street for seven minutes to recognize how long George Floyd was on the ground for and in honor of African American people who have died from police brutality throughout the country.
University student activist Drake Materre said the community showed efforts of unity.
“Solidarity is important because it shows how everyone is connected in the struggle of freedom,” he said. “The kneeling and solidarity shows the power of the people against systems of oppression that stretch beyond borders.”
The rally ended with a call-to-action to not only end police brutality, but to also end systemic racism in education and to mobilize young people to vote.
“We were here to educate the people to let them know the importance of voting, to also encourage them to complete their census,” Conerly said.
HVTV said on their website that there will be other protests throughout the week. They are planning “Forty Days of Peace,” an initiative to stop violence in neighborhoods which will include community service events, block parties and more.
HVTV Founder Maurice Hayes said after the protests conclude, he hopes to see improvements.
“I want to see some change,” he said. “Whether we are in Minneapolis, whether it is in Chicago or Champaign, it’s time for us as a community to stand together to demand change.”
Photos by Taylor Howard