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A Truly Grassroots Demonstration

Kali Shelton (left) has been joined by others in peaceful demonstrations in downtown Macomb
Rich Egger
Kali Shelton (left) has been joined by others in peaceful demonstrations in downtown Macomb

Kali Shelton of Macomb said as events unfolded last week in response to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, she felt she could not just sit by and watch.

“I decided to come out here and even if it was just us, at least I felt I was doing something,” Shelton told TSPR.

So Shelton -- who is white – went to the northwest corner of Chandler Park, at the busy intersection of Routes 67 and 136 in Macomb, and held up a sign that reads “Black Lives Matter!!”

She was not alone for long. Some people who drove by and saw her joined in. Others just walked up and joined them. And now several peaceful demonstrations have been held there since May 29.

Listen to the radio story

Shelton said she’s upset about all the unarmed black men and women who have been killed by police.

“I have two children that are mixed, and it scares me to think that it could be them one day. I’m scared for them to play outside too late. I’m scared for them to get a driver’s license,” she said.

“Every time this happens it hurts and every time it happens it’s emotional and every time it happens it hits home.”

Andrea Henderson joined the demonstration after driving by and seeing Shelton at the corner. 

“I thought they shouldn’t be standing alone,” Henderson said.

“Enough is enough. We need to stop the hatred. We need to stand together against these things. So I joined her. I called a few people that I knew and said, ‘Hey, what are you doing? Can you join us?’ And some people came out.”

Verneata Jones of Macomb said she is hopeful such demonstrations will help bring about change, but she is disappointed the same racial problems keep coming up in the U.S.

“We all serve the same God. Just the color of our skin – does that make that big of a difference that we have to continue to go through this on a daily basis?” Jones asked.

“Some people driving by are saying hurtful things. But at the end of the day I’m still going to pray, not only for the people who are out here and standing for what’s right but also for the ones that aren’t right.”

This story was produced by Tri States Public Radio.  TSPR relies on financial support from our readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri. As someone who values the content created by TSPR's news department please consider making a financial contribution.

Copyright 2021 Tri States Public Radio. To see more, visit Tri States Public Radio.