CHADRON – Chadron State College students and employees had the opportunity to join other campuses nationwide in supporting the Black Lives Matter movement Wednesday, June 3 in a peaceful protest organized by CSC students and community residents
The peaceful protest originated at the Lindeken Clock Tower and proceeded to the Dawes County Courthouse. The group of about 200 were encouraged to wear face coverings and masks were distributed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 before the march started.
CSC students Brittney Peters of Rapid City, S.D., Cody Madigral of Omaha, Neb., William Atnip of Lander, Wyo., Shanie Hollenbeck of Estelline, S.D., Julissa Gomez of Alliance, Neb., and Jacob Jensen of Tekamah, Neb., ,CSC’s Title IX Coordinator Ted Tewahade, Project Strive Director Jen Schaer, and other students and community residents from the Twitter handle @ChadronProtests organized the protest.
Theatre major Trajan Garcia of Alliance, Nebraska, explained the purpose of the event by asking those who gathered at the clock tower to say in unison, “We want peace for the children.” The clip was used for a video compiled by rap artist Ali Tomineek, who performed at CSC for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January.
When convened at the Dawes County Courthouse, CSC students BriYanna Lyon of Fountain, Colo., Tyreek Bryant of Denver, and Justin Cauley of Los Angeles, and recent CSC graduate Virginia Renee Spotted Thunder of Hay Springs, Neb., spoke to the group about their past experiences with racism and hopes for a better future. Dr. Dave Nesheim, professor and adviser to the Social Science Club, also addressed the crowd, reviewing the country’s past with slavery and other social injustices.
The culminating moment of the courthouse gathering was a nearly nine minute moment of silence when Garcia asked participants to lie face down on the grass, silent, with their hands behind their backs. The 8-minute and 46-second moment of silence was the same amount of time George Floyd was detained before he died in custody of the Minneapolis Police May 23.
“I was blown away by the turnout we had. I was only expecting there to be around 20-30 people, so when I saw the crowd, I was taken aback. Many of them had made their own signs to show support. You could see the love and compassion that were put into them,” Garcia said. “Dr. Nesheim’s willingness to speak was also really helpful for sending a positive message.”
Nesheim echoed the positive sentiment expressed by students involved in the protest.
“It was incredible and very encouraging. The Chadron Police Department supporting the protest and allowing it to occur on the streets was a really great indicator of the overall level of support. Seeing members of CSC administration, faculty, coaches, staff, and students taking part in the peaceful protest side by side with the large number of Chadron residents makes me proud to call this town home,” Nesheim said.
Garcia said it was his first experience conducting activism work. He said upcoming events to build awareness about social injustices will be a cruise night similar to those sponsored by the Chadron Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We’d like to get people to use window markers and such to show messages of support for the Black Community as we drive around town. We did something special in Chadron and I want everyone to be proud of themselves for standing up for what’s right,” Garcia said.
Peters said she was pleased with the support from local police.
“There were a lot of differing opinions throughout the entire protest especially concerning the police. I, for one, am appreciative of the Chadron police. They reached out to us to make sure we would be safe during the entire protest. They also brought water and snacks. There were community members handing out water to protesters. Many of them ended up joining us. The community responded very well and I just hope they continue to support us fighting for justice,” Peters said.
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