Indiana Daily Student

Indy responds to recent violence with Black Lives Matter protest

Participants raised a fist as a symbol of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday evening at the State House, Indianapolis.
Participants raised a fist as a symbol of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement on Saturday evening at the State House, Indianapolis.

Treasure Jones can’t get the dreams out of her head.

Like the one where she gets a call that her sister or brother has been shot. Or the dream where she’s sitting in her driver’s seat. She bends over to pick up the ID she dropped, and the police officer thinks she’s pulling a weapon. He shoots her.

Jones remembers that one vividly.

Her dreams were a reality for two black men — Alton Sterling and Philando Castille — just in the past week. So Jones was one of hundreds to gather in front of the Indiana Statehouse on Saturday to protest the violence and remember those men’s lives.

“Black Lives Matter” and “Am I Next?” the signs read. “Spread love” and “End Racism Now.”

People young and old, of different ethnicities, paid tribute to black lives lost and hoped their stance would start to make a change.

Angie Alexander of Don’t Sleep, an anti-oppression group that organized the rally, knows enacting change is much harder than it sounds.

This was her fifth BLM 
protest.

“This is the time for us to come together, express how we feel, laugh together, cry together and just be black,” 
Alexander said.

Following Sterling’s death, videos surfaced on the internet. Alexander tried to watch one, but couldn’t bear it.

Then another video of Sterling’s son and his mother speaking at a press conference spread. Sterling’s son, 15, pulled his shirt over this face as he broke down and cried out “I want Daddy.”

As a mother, Alexander saw her two little girls in the video.

“I’m walking around with a target on my back all the time,” she said. “And I don’t want my children to have to say they want their mommy because someone who has vowed to serve us and protect us has taken me away.”

Saturday night, they prayed for the victims and their families. They each raised a fist in solidarity. They chanted for justice and peace and equality, and their cries echoed above the city 
buildings.

When Gabrielle Patterson stood up to read her poem, there was pain in every word she spoke.

“I’ll tell my son to keep his belt tied tight,

I’ll tell him to stay off the streets at night,

Not to drop his wallet or buy shirts with a hood

‘Cause his skin tone alone means he’s up to no good.”

Patterson spoke the words from memory. It wasn’t the first time she had done this — she wrote the poem for a previous BLM rally, but is still waiting to see her words make a 
difference.

“It’s my responsibility to be here until something changes,” she said.

Patterson preached to a crowd that was mostly black, people who admit they live constantly in fear, while some showed up to the protest to support the cause and become more educated.

That was Susan Eickman, who stood quietly in the corner with her husband. At 67 years old, Eickman admits she’s never too old to learn.

She has heard the worst from her white counterparts about Black Lives Matter — the movement is a bad thing and it should be shut down, they’ll say.

Eickman didn’t feel the same way.

“I feel white people are missing the point,” she said. “None of us can say all lives matter until we realize black people have the same rights as everybody else.”

As the protest became louder, so did Eickman. She would nod her head in agreement and eventually became one of the voices.

“The people united will never be defeated,” she 
chanted.

“No justice, no peace.”

By the end, protesters in the back of the crowd could only hear whispers.

At the edge of the courtyard, a little girl climbed onto a monument so she could be seen. She stood on that thin ledge the entire time, holding a scribbled sign — hearts marked three of the corners, and her name, Promise, written at the bottom.

“I’m here,” she said in a small voice, “to cheer for the white people and the black people.”

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