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Vigil, march in Bellbrook protests racial inequality

Protesters in Bellbrock Park spent almost nine minutes on their stomachs Friday night, June 5, 2020, to mark the time a police officer's knee was on George Floyd's neck. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Protesters in Bellbrock Park spent almost nine minutes on their stomachs Friday night, June 5, 2020, to mark the time a police officer's knee was on George Floyd's neck. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Nearly 200 people gathered in Bellbrook Friday evening for a vigil and march against racial injustice.

Many sat with signs and listened to speakers at the Bellbrock Park event, organized by Kim McCarthy of Sugarcreek Twp. and Tahana Young of Bellbrook.

The two said they wanted to have an event in the Bellbrook community because it is a predominantly white area.

“The onus for dealing with racism falls on white people,” McCarthy said.

“We wanted to get ahead of this,” Young said. “It’s beneficial for the community to come together in this way.”

Kisha Taylor, an 18-year Bellbrook resident, spoke about racism she experienced in her city.

“I didn’t move here because I needed a safe place,” Taylor said. “I moved here because I am a farm girl from Alabama ... and how this place has reminded me of my home in the south. I have faced racism from my neighbors.”

Young and McCarthy said they asked other black families to speak at the event, but they were not sure if there would be backlash from the community if they spoke.

“One mother’s response in particular stuck with me, she asked if she spoke out, would her son become a target?” Young said.

Young encouraged those in attendance to call out racism when they see and hear it.

“We need to make everyone comfortable,” Young said. “We need to step up and do better.”

The protesters then had nearly nine minutes of laying on the ground, most on their stomaches, with their hands behind their backs to mark the amount of time a Minnesota police officer’s knee was on Floyd’s neck before his death.

McCarthy called it “a demonstration in understanding.”

Protesters chanted “I can’t breathe” while laying on the ground, like Floyd did before he was killed in police custody.

The group also marched down Main Street to Pretrikis Park.