Demonstrators gather in Yellow Springs to protest death of George Floyd

About 500 people rallied and marched in Yellow Springs Saturday afternoon, protesting racism, police brutality and the deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement. Speakers urged people to vote and to be active to bring change to the United States.

“We have to vote and when we vote we need to vote for lawmakers who are dedicated to dismantling white supremacy within our country, who will work on reform of the criminal justice system, said speaker Julie Holt. “It’s not enough to dismantle, we have to repair.”

Bomani Moyenda, one of the organizers of the peaceful protest, encouraged people to get involved by joining anti-racist organizations. He read a long list of people who have died while in custody or interacting with law enforcement.

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He followed with a powerful 9 minutes of silence, with the crowd sitting quietly as he described at different moments what George Floyd’s last minutes of life were like as he lay handcuffed on the pavement with a Minneapolis police officer’s knee on his neck.

Moyenda spoke of the death of John Crawford III, who a Beavercreek police officer repeatedly shot at Walmart in 2014 as the 22-year old man talked on the phone while holding a toy gun he'd picked up off the shelf.

“How many bullets does it take to kill a black man? These are evil people we are dealing with,” Moyenda said.

Protesters held up peace signs and fists and chanted as they marched through downtown Yellow Springs.

Organizers chanted to the crowd, ‘Say his name.” And the crowd responded with ‘George Floyd.’

RELATED: Local leaders call for weekend protests to be loud, peaceful

“I’m here because I want to stand in solidarity for things that have been happening since before I was born,” Yellow Springs resident Erika Tallet said. “People think that this is just about George Floyd but we’ve been crying since Emmett Till and I want to stand in solidarity and show people that racism is not alive in 2020.”

The crowd marched down Xenia Ave. from the starting point of the rally at Limestone Ave. and then circled around blocks back to the starting point

Yellow Springs Village Manager Josue Salmeron said, “We’re here because we can no longer be silent about the injustice that’s happening throughout the country, police enforcement and how we treat black people in our country.”

“We all must stand up,” Salmeron said. “We can’t stand on the sidelines. we have to be active participants in social change. And this is what a component of being active citizens and active participants in social change looks like.”

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Here are some of the things protesters said about why they came and what they hoped to accomplish by protesting:

Teresa Felder, has a 26-year-old son and fears for his life.

“I’m particularly fearful for him because the statistics aren't on his side. I know that this has been said before, but to hear when George Floyd called out from his mom, every black mom related to that. that was beyond heartbreaking,” Felder said. “I mean i get emotional thinking about it even now, that somebody's son had to called out for his mom that was no longer alive. I know every black mom pictures their own time in that situation, and it's excruciatingly painful to see that and to be experienced that trauma of seeing that over and over.”

RELATED: Talks begin on improving police-resident relations

Stratton, 39 of Yellow Springs came to the protest with his mom, Linda Rudawski, 68, also of Yellow Springs.

“I’m here to support Black Lives Matter and also to support this notion that we’re all human beings and we’re all Americans. And everyone  deserves the same justice,” Stratton said.

“I am here because of the injustice and racism and police  brutality that has been pushed upon persons of color for far too long,”said Rudawski. “It must stop and I’m here to show my support.

RELATED: What can we do to combat racism? Local experts weigh in

Jeff Wolverton of Yellow Springs said, “Well, my biggest interest is ecology, which I think is the overriding (issue for) our children and grandchildren, or the future. But one of my secondary things that I've worked on, I'm writing a book, is getting this white privilege thing under control. And so obviously that's another way of saying to help black lives to matter. And so all these signs are helping me to learn other ways to say that same thing.”

RELATED: Hundreds of protesters line Old Troy Pike in Huber Heights

Brady Latimer, who is originally from Ohio, made the trip to Yellow Springs for this rally and planned attend the one in Huber Heights later today. He came with his son Jake, 24.

“Well, we are allies. We want to stand with the black community. You know, we see what's going on. At a certain point, you just gotta say, enough's enough,” Latimer said. “You can you can talk, you can post on Facebook, you can say how terrible it is amongst yourselves, but if you don't act, you're just speaking into a bubble. So for us, it's putting action to words.”

Demonstrations also took place Saturday in Dayton, Trotwood, Miami Twp. and Huber Heights in Montgomery County and Xenia in Greene County.

An armed demonstration that had been planned for downtown Dayton today has been canceled.

PHOTOS: Hundreds gather in Bellbrook for racial inequality protest

Nationwide protests — some peaceful, some violent — have been ignited after police killed George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, faces second-degree murder and other charges, while the other three officers present face charges of aiding and abetting murder.

RELATED: Peaceful protests on Saturday, calls for reform spread across region

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