DeKALB – Nearly 100 protesters linked arms at the intersection of Greenwood Acres Drive and Sycamore Road to block the four-lane road of traffic around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, and Tiana McAllister stood in front of them and said “Let them be mad.”
“Let them be mad, let them be mad,” McAllister, 18, of DeKalb repeated. “We’ve been mad for years, let them be mad.”
“These people want to go to their families. George Floyd had a family,” said Andre Allen, 21, of DeKalb. “Where did he end up? Dead. He did not get to go home, so these people can wait.”
Tuesday marked Day 4 of Black Lives Matter demonstrations held to protest continued violence and killings of black people while in the custody of police. The protests locally and across the country were spurred by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen in a video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes prior to his death.
It was a nearly four-hour demonstration led by mostly young people, including Andre Ventress, 16, of DeKalb, who expressed what many did throughout the march: “We’re tired.”
“We’re all tired of things being done that shouldn’t be done to people of color, we’re tired of it,” Ventress said, addressing the crowd at Memorial Park. “But we tried to be peaceful, but the rioting and things that are happening outside of this community is happening because of police brutality and racism, so we all need to stand together, because this has been a problem for years and we’re all tired of it.”
Protests began Tuesday at 3 p.m. outside of the DeKalb Police Department with participants handing out water and sunscreen. For the second day, some DeKalb police officers knelt with the group. The protesters then marched to Memorial Park at First Street and Lincoln Highway, then broke off into two groups and marched down Sycamore Road to the Marathon gas station, and south to Clinton Rosette Middle School, a 4-mile walk in the 90-degree heat.
The march wasn’t met with 100% enthusiasm from bystanders, though, and DeKalb police Cmdr. Craig Woodruff confirmed a man along 10th street was sitting on his porch with a handgun while marchers passed.
During the march down Sycamore Road, marchers stood in front of cars and some drivers and bystanders got into screaming matches. Along Sycamore Road, demonstrators surrounded a pickup truck and asked the driver to say “black lives matter.” The woman driver later drove up to DeKalb police squad cars, who throughout the march held the traffic at bay while demonstrators took to the streets, and yelled, “Why aren’t you doing anything?”
Another confrontation along Sycamore Road and the entrance to Jewel-Osco, a woman leaned out of her window and yelled, “This isn’t peaceful anymore.”
There weren’t, however, any arrests or police altercations during the nearly four-hour demonstration.
The march ended around 7 p.m. at Clinton Rosette Middle School, where the group was greeted with free Gatorade from Jewel-Osco and pulled pork from DeKalb resident Joseph Merritt, who said “I heard they were doing it and just started cooking.”
The city met the marchers with a bus to take them the remainder of the way back to their cars.
Allen, who, along with McAllister, helped organize the daily protests, said he expects they’ll continue, and will help lead a demonstration planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday in front of the DeKalb County Courthouse, 133 W. State St., in Sycamore.
“Change isn’t something that happens overnight so we can’t just come out like one or two times and expect that we’re going to get the justice that we want from the world,” Allen said. “So we feel like we’re going to come out every single day.”
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