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“Black Lives Matter” chants echoed across Evanston’s Fountain Square Saturday evening as residents, many dressed in all black, waved handmade posters and demanded change.

The few hundred protesters condemned police brutality after the shooting deaths of two black men in Louisiana and Minnesota earlier in the week.

Two former Evanston Township High students created a Facebook event called Evanston Against Police Brutality after Alton Sterling, 37, was killed in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile, 32, was shot in Falcon Heights, both by white police officers.

Organizer Camille Allen, 18, reached out to a friend after watching videos of the shootings and debated holding a vigil or protest.

“We decided ultimately that while there was a time to mourn their deaths, there could also be a time to call for action and call for change,” Allen said. “I don’t think activism is one set solution or one set plan. We have to be active, whatever that means to us.”

The rally’s demographic varied, from young children to the elderly, and included people of diverse racial and religious backgrounds. Both a rabbi and a pastor spoke about how they want the community to unite, not divide, during this controversial time.

“My faith in God helps me to believe that, as difficult as things are right now, I believe that our best days are not behind us, but our best days are just ahead of us,” said the Rev. Michael Nabors of Second Baptist Church.

After Nabors addressed the crowd, ETHS student Liana Wallace, 15, performed a spoken-word poem she wrote the day before. Wallace voiced her frustration about the recent killings, but said violence was not the answer. She called on legislators to combat institutionalized racism.

“I demand a tomorrow where a white police officer cannot feel so threatened by my skin as to shoot at the very sight at me, and I demand that we start working on this tomorrow today,” Wallace said. “I don’t want to protest for the rest of my life. I want something to change.”

Wallace is on the board of Students Organized Against Racism, a group committed to combating prejudice at ETHS. Members used social media to promote Evanston Against Police Brutality.

“These protests are really important because they build community and you see the people who care,” Wallace said. “You could be sitting in your room looking on Facebook the entire day and you’re really depressed, and then you come here and there’s a community of people who are hurting and struggling with you so you don’t feel so alone.”

After the demonstration, rally leaders moved into the crowd and spoke with attendees, many of whom were crying and hugging each other. Nabors said he used his experience as a minister at Second Baptist, Evanston’s first black Baptist congregation, to cope with his own grief and indignation after the shootings.

“You have to try to grasp your emotions and get them under control. Your voice is going to be one of the few that will be heard by hundreds of people,” Nabors said. “How do you move from an emotional moment like a rally into something that’s substantive? We may not be able to change the world, but you can bet your bottom dollar that we will change Evanston.”

This story was produced by Marissa Martinez, Erin Edwards and Leah Graham, journalism students at Northwestern University.

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8 Comments

  1. Black Lives Matter has lost its appeal to me…
    It has always been my thought that this slogan should have included the word “also.” I once had a sign in my land that included the word “also”…it was stolen from my yard. I now have a thought of putting up a sign that would says: “Black Lives should matter to Black Lives & Stop the violence on your self… Such is my African American Male View.

  2. White lives matter, too. Don’t they?
    This Evanston protest happened just two days after Micah X targeted whites and shot 12 people, killing five white cops.

    The dead Dallas cops haven’t been buried yet and these Evanstonians are protesting against police and two shootings that are still under investigation in which both victims had guns. What a sad uncaring statement. They could have at least waited until the Dallas cops were buried. I bet the Evanston Democratic party was involved in this protest as well. This is about politics and it’s an election year.

    Black Lives Matter was founded on a lie. Michael Brown was not on his knees with his hands up when he was shot. The same hour he strong armed a store clerk and stole cigars he attacked a cop in his squad car. That cop lost his career and had to move his family away because of threats.

    Is this the America we want?

    “How many more black people will die simply for existing?” More whites are shot and killed by cops than blacks and hispanics put together. In fact, a week before the two black men were shot and killed, Fresno police shot and killed unarmed 19 year old Dylan Noble LYING ON THE GROUND AT A GAS STATION!! So why isn’t Noble a household name and why didn’t Obama mention him in his public address, condemning the police shootings before all the facts were in?

    Oh yeah, Noble is white. Those darn facts again.

    1. Not only minorities are stopped
      Not to anyway minimize the shootings of the two black men last week, but even as a white man I know if your car is stopped by a policeman, you keep your hands on the steering wheel until you are told differently and don’t reach for a wallet, registration, to the glove department—or anything else. There are other precautions [like turning on the dome light, turn off the engine, but not reaching for anything is always demanded.
      We have seen recently the number of weapons recovered in cars and during car stoppings. Of course policemen are cautious and scared of what can happen. My understanding is domestic disputes which would seem less threating, actually are considered more dangerous to policemen.
      Reports are common that blacks and Hispanics are stopped more than whites. However I am white and come from a small town in Iowa and in the early 1960s when coming back into town from a church meeting a police car followed me for a mile across town until I stopped to let off a passenger. The officer said I had speeded when he saw me driving clear across town—I was probably doing 15 in a 20 mph zone. My mother was seated next to me, I was wearing a suit, I knew the officer from church and had been in his house and he knew I knew the Sheriff [also from the same church]. But still he went through his same ‘spiel.’ Another time, also coming from a church even in another town, a policeman stopped the car of a friend in front of me and made him walk a line to show he was not drunk. My friend was white, wearing a suit, and his mother was seated next to him. In neither case did it go any further but the police never said they were wrong or apologized.
      I assume the police stopping even white kids today for nothing, is still common. Let alone the minorities we read about.

    2. All lives matter

      This is a much deeper problem that begins with how people are being raised..or NOT raised…..and how they are nurtured..or NOT nurtured after being born. All these killings..including separated and divorced people killing their spouses ,and children…torturing animals…..killing strangers…..exemplifies the fact that if a person is not taught early on to cherish and have respect for their own life, they won't have respect for other people's lives. They also don't think about consequences for their actions. This is a problem that shows no one face of any particular color. Hatred, ignorance, and prejudice know no boundaries….. It's a shame to see and hear about people in authoritative jobs hurting others…teenagers taunting and bullying other teenagers…..religious groups feeling like they have a right to hurt and destroy other religions…..people need to be soul searching as to why they feel they have a right to do bad things…..lots of unstable minds running around, and it's hard to get people turned around when they neverreally learned to be "human" in the first place….

    3. Facts

      Your facts as stated about equal number of blacks and hispanics as whites getting killed by police is misleading.  There are about the same number of blacks and whites killed by police each year BUT blacks make up only 13% of the US population and whites make up 62%. This means blacks are about 2-3 times more likely to be killed than whites.  The rate of black males vs white males killed by police are even worse. There is an extensive article expaining the research in today's Washington Post or you can find it on the Huffington Post website. 

      1. Pure numbers don’t tell the story
        Articles and comments often compare population numbers or percents by race to shootings, jail time, convictions, etc..
        Obviously that is not the relevant comparison. If [these are exaggerated numbers to make a point] 5% population commit 30% of a crime, then you should not be surprised to find that they make-up say 40% of the prison population.
        If 15% of whites arrested [or convicted] of the same crime of 15 or even 30% of blacks but the whites get off with a lighter sentence, then that is good evidence that something is wrong with the system. More difficult to determine ‘fault’ is for car stops for similar problems–tail lights out, no turn signals, slight speeding by race or area—there numbers may be a good indication.
        Communities like black areas of towns demand the end to drug dealings, shootings, robbery. But that means more police in the area and thus more chance that they will see a crime in those areas–or even tail lights out, illegal turns, speeding—and thus more tickets/arrests.

      2. Proportionality
        Blacks may be 2-3 times more likely to be killed than whites, but this is not disproportionate, when rates of violent crime are taken into account. According to the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Reports (see table 43), white and black offenders commit 58.4% and 38.7% of violent crimes, respectively. For murder and non negligent homicide, the figures are 45.3% committed by white offenders and 52.2% committed by black offenders. The racial categories are not broken down into Hispanic and non Hispanic origin. According to census.gov, whites make up around 78% of all people in the United States. Black or African American individuals make up only about 13% of the people in the United States, yet commit more than half of murders. Though our creeping police state and the shrinking of our civil liberties is a legitimate concern, the higher rate of deaths by police shootings for black males is not indicative of unfairness in enforcement, when violent offender rates are taken into account.

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