Black Lives Matter march calls for better communication between community, police in Stevens Point
A Black Lives Matter march was held in Stevens Point Sunday afternoon. The event saw a crowd gather at 3:00 p.m. on the square in downtown Stevens Point, marching with signs in hand towards the courthouse.
The march was the latest protest to happen in central Wisconsin, demanding change and awareness after George Floyd died while in police custody in Minneapolis on Monday.
The protest remained peaceful throughout and concluded back at the square.
"After all of these things have come out in the news lately, I reached out to some of my African American friends who also attended UWSP and asked for their experiences, and the stories brought me to tears," said organizer Keaira Stine. “Many of them were not able to complete their education here at UWSP because things like housing and jobs were unavailable.”
Stine grew up in Stevens Point and identifies as mixed race. In addition to being concerned about the inequality she sees in her community, she says she worries what happened to George Floyd could happen to her brother or sisters.
"Knowing their experiences, and who they are as people, and that that could be them at any moment is absolutely terrifying," she said.
Nate Sayas-Porter is Native American. He says he's seen discrimination against his community as he grew up and spent more time with other Native Americans. That's why he showed up Sunday to support others.
"You wake up to things, and you see it more, and it just kind of sparked something in me that you want to protect people and you want to be there for them," he said.
Many white people also showed up to support the message of racial justice. Protestor James Moffat says white people play an important role in achieving equality.
"We need to step up. We need to understand that we do have influence as white people, and we've got to take advantage and step in and listen to people of color when they're talking to us," he said.
He believes white people must make change in their own community.
“We do that by having difficult conversations with people that are our friends, with our families,” Moffat said.
Organizers are hoping this sparks better communication between the community and police.
"I think there should be some dialogue between police, government officials and people of color in this community, as far as what they can do to make it better," said Stine. “Someone needs to bridge that gap and create an area where it’s safe for everyone to express their concerns, feelings, fears.”
One speaker told the crowd that a way to make meaningful change is not just to vote, but to reach out to local officials and make your voice heard.
#BlackLivesMatter Wausau held a protest along Grand Avenue, near the Marathon County Court House on Friday. The group has a George Floyd March scheduled to take place June 6, beginning on The 400 Block in downtown Wausau at 10 a.m.