The temperature was close to 100° in the shade, but the crowd of demonstrators —at least 75, of many ages — parked themselves on the corners between Main Street and Memorial Park for the first hour of Saturday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration in Winfield
The enthusiastic protestors responded to people driving by and blowing their horns, and drank water provided by several good samaritans, including Winfield Police Chief Robbie DeLong and Capt. Chad Gordon. The crowd then wandered down to Main Street where they took up spots on all four corners of Main Street and Ninth Avenue.
For seven hours of peaceful protesting, residents young and old, black, white and other racial backgrounds held up signs and shouted out messages calling for racial justice and an end to police killings of black citizens.
A group from Udall, Kristen and Bill McReynolds and Annesue Marczynski, said they were glad to see both Baby Boomers and young adults were on hand.
Lots of people beeped their horns showing their support for the crowd. A few men blasted soot out their tailpipes to choke the demonstrators. One man said most fingers raised were thumbs. One fellow gave him the finger and he shouted back, “Yes, we’re number one.”
Police vehicles drove among the heavy Friday afternoon traffic but kept a low profile.
The demonstrators seemed proud of their good behavior. Their purpose was clear: To let people know that black lives do matter and people, all people, are obligated to work at making things better. Jacque Nation’s sign seemed to sum things up: Human kind. Be both.
The rally followed a smaller one at the same location last weekend. Organizer Amanda Mead broadcast Facebook live during the event and thanked people for turning out. She also gave a shout out to Winfield police officers.
“I really appreciate them coming out here, making sure everybody is hydrated.”
Lynne Hunter commiserated with a visitor who noted she’d been going to demonstrations almost her whole life, nearly three-quarters of a century. And still things seem to be the same, Hunter said, the problems have not gone away.
The feeling of the event was not powerlessness, however. People were glad to see one another. Though most practiced social distancing and many wore masks, they showed their delight in being outside and together — even for a serious purpose on a hot early summer day.
One mixed-race family group stood together encouraging one another and declaring their intent to take care of one another.
Jazmyn Strange said she wants to make the world better so her daughter can take her place in it and carry on supporting her family.
One young black man who would not give his name but carried a sign asking people to honor Dr. King by ending racism, spoke of how difficult it is to be a young black man who keeps his values intact.
“I’d rather die for what I believe,” he said, than live in a world where racism triumphs.
The demonstration was scheduled to last until 8 p.m.