PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — About 100 Black Lives Matter protesters gathered at the Cross Roads Mall in Portage Saturday afternoon.
The group marched through the surrounding area calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.
“We’re just keeping awareness raised,” organizer Quinton Bryant said. “Each community faces this issue. Each community has police brutality against people of color. It might not be on a big scale where we’re getting killed, but it’s on a small scale like getting stopped for no reason.”
The protest follows weeks of similar demonstrations across the country. Protesters say while the death of George Floyd was a catalyst for current demonstrations, the movement is bigger than him.
“This is Emmett Till. This is Rodney King. This is Sandra Bland. This is Philando Castile. It is everyone who has ever died at the hands of a police officer or unjust treatment. This is so much more,” protester Trinity Posey said.
Several children attended the protests, too. Many protesters said they want to see change for the sake of future generations.
“Things need to be changed right now. They don’t need to wait two or three months. They need to be changed right now for her,” said Barbara Johnson as she stood with her great niece. “I want her to be equal. I don’t want her to be afraid to walk at night. I don’t want her to be called names.”
Organizers say they chose the July 4 date on purpose. They say while it represents freedom for many Americans, it does not mean the same thing for many black people.
“Our independence day is Juneteenth, not July 4th. That’s why we’re protesting instead of celebrating July 4th,” Bryant said.
They say their goal is to keep this issue at the forefront until real change happens.
“I feel like there’s a different energy in the air and it’s really important to capitalize on that and keep moving and not let this die because if this dies, millions of people will continue to die,” protester Trinity Posey said.
Protesters say the demonstrations will likely continue for weeks to come.