In Glenwood Springs, dozens rally for justice in killing of George Floyd
Todd Chamberlin noticed something different Monday night as some in Glenwood Springs joined others in communities across the country, large and small, in protesting police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
“This is a very young crowd, and that’s what it’s going to come down to is generational change,” said Chamberlin, who, as a gay man, is used to protesting on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
“There’s so much systemic racism and bigotry in our society, and it has to change,” he said. “We’re all one, and we should really act as one and support one another, and not feed into the hate and violence.”
That’s why Chamberlin said he was inspired to see the large number of young people in the crowd of about 85 peaceful protesters who gathered next to Glenwood Springs City Hall and the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office.
“This generation sees through all the bigotry that we’ve had for far too long,” he said. “There’s much more diversity in our population than there was 20 or 30 years ago … and it’s just great to see them here speaking out and wanting change.”
Among them were Samantha Corcoran and Emily Henriksen, who just graduated from Glenwood Springs High School on Saturday.
Corcoran said she sees many of her peers act indifferently toward social justice issues, but the anger is real.
“We couldn’t go to Denver or any of the big protests around the country, but there is something we can do right here in our own town,” she said. “It feels like we’re at a breaking point, and maybe a revolution is coming. I hope so.”
Added Henriksen, “People are fed up, and they are demanding change. We just want to add our voice to that.”
The Glenwood Springs rally was hastily organized via social media by Western Slope Anti-Racist Action. The group organized a similar rally in Grand Junction on Sunday, and is planning one in Rifle on Tuesday.
Protesters waved signs and chanted, “say his name … George Floyd!” “end police brutality” and “black lives matter.” The group eventually moved to the lawn in front of the Sheriff’s Office and each of them laid face-down for eight minutes of silence, except for the quiet mantra of “I can’t breathe.”
“This is a second time we’ve seen a black man die on the streets and his last words were ‘I can’t breathe,’” event organizer Joanna Gibson of Parachute said in reference to Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, and that of Eric Garner in New York City in 2014.
“For us to remain silent is for us to remain accepting of the situation we currently live in,” Gibson said. “We can’t do that anymore. We have to be the people who stand up.”
She said it’s important for people to understand the racial element of what happened to Floyd, Garner and others who died at the hands of police.
“The anger, the pain, the anguish … all of that. It’s important that everyone everywhere is aware of this.”
Steve and Brianna Williams just moved to New Castle from Columbus, Ohio, and wanted to add their voice to the local rally.
“My husband is black, we have a black son, so, yes, justice has to be served,” Brianna said. “We’re just happy to see this in such a little town.”
Dawn Dexter of Glenwood Springs has started an anti-racist book club and is promoting the Campaign Zero to End Police Violence, which outlines 10 steps to bring police reform.
“It’s important that, as a white woman, and from my little bit of privilege, that I use that privilege to speak up for those who don’t have the same privilege,” Dexter said.
“I can walk around freely in my city without anyone saying I’m a suspicious character, and I don’t have to fear being brutalized by the police,” she said. “That means I need to show up and speak up for those who do experience that.”
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State department of transportation crews are well on their way to clearing Highway 82 to Independence Pass, which should open on schedule May 27 at noon.