By Neal Smith
Last Friday, over 500 people gathered across from the Greenwood Public Library to show their support for Black Lives Matter. The evening was in contrast to demonstrations that occurred just a few miles north in Indianapolis and in other cities around the world three weeks ago, protesting the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Cindy Reinert, Democratic candidate for House District 58 helped to organize the rally. “We all have a responsibility to take a stand against racism and injustice,” she said. “It is not enough to not be racist; we must be anti-racist. We know that there is a desire for action from our constituents for change to come.”
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers also attended the rally, sharing his thoughts on Floyd’s homicide and asking for feedback from the community. “As a husband and a father, I think about my family and how it is impossible to imagine a world where they fear every time they walk out the door,” he said. “I watched the video (of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chavin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck). That was not a split-second decision. That was an eight-minute and 46-second decision. We must not let our faith in good police officers prevent us from seeing those that are the bad. As a 57-year-old white male, I think the best thing I can do is to step back and listen … to you. Listen to the people of color.”
Bartholomew County NAACP President Olisa Humes urged for police reform. “If the passerby didn’t use their voice and camera in the George Floyd killing, they (police) may never have been arrested,” she said. “The police who brutally murdered Mr. Floyd, the police who murdered Breona Taylor may never have been arrested. Body cameras are good, but it has to go beyond that. We need to ask that the policies that control those body cams make sense, like they shouldn’t be able to turn their cameras off. There are a lot of things that we need to make sure that we’re also asking that the policies make sense for our citizens.”
“This is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” Jeanine Lake, 6th District Democratic candidate for Congress, said of the turnout. “I’ll tell you what. If Black Lives Matter only to black people, we’re going to be here again. When you say those words “Black Lives Matter,” it has to mean something to you. It means that you’re willing to step out into uncomfortable conversations. You have to speak up. It’s time to speak up.
“We cannot keep having George Floyds,” she continued. “We cannot keep having Breona Taylors. We’re asking for basic rights. To live in the land that gives us the pursuit of happiness just like you have. I love the signs that say, ‘I may not understand, but I stand with you.’ I want you to understand: we live with these things every day.”