‘Enough is Enough’: CU activists protest police brutality
August 30, 2020
The Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition, an activist organization that works for racial equality in the area, protested alongside other community members against racial injustice and police brutality on Friday night.
The protest, “Enough is Enough,” comes after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot and paralyzed by police on Sunday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Over the summer, community activist groups held protests and demonstrations against police brutality in the C-U area. A smaller protest was held in Champaign Wednesday.
Friday’s protest began at 7 p.m. at the Champaign Police Station, at the corner of First Street and University Avenue. Over 100 protesters showed up and held signs condemning police brutality and organizers spoke throughout the night.
The protest moved to First Street and Springfield Avenue and reassembled at the intersection. After organizers briefly spoke, the group moved to the intersection of First and Green streets.
The march continued down Green Street toward Alma Mater, where protesters put up signs on the monument. The signs included a “list of demands” the Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition has advocated for throughout the summer. The group’s main priority is defunding the police; reallocating municipal funds from the police department to other government and social service agencies.
“‘Defund the Police’ is our first demand,” said Drake Materre, a University of Illinois student and community activist. “And every demand that follows that can be implemented by defunding the police.”
Locally, the Urbana City Council voted to reduce the city’s police budget by 2% in June.
Justin Hendrix, a Parkland College student and one of the organizers of the protest, said he wanted to focus on gun violence within the Champaign-Urbana area.
“We’re still being killed and we’re still being murdered and nothing’s happening,” Hendrix said. “We’re standing up to make sure (that) even our own community knows that gun violence must stop.”
The list of demands was not the only sign protesters placed on the monument. Another sign on Alma Mater read: “To thy liberated children of the future, those of the past seek revolution.”
The sign’s language is a parallel to the inscription on the statue: “To thy happy children of the future, those of the past send greetings.”
Speaking in front of the Alma Mater, Materre encouraged students to get involved in local politics, noting that the Urbana City Council is up for re-election in the spring.
After the march, protesters chalked the sidewalk, but the chalk was hosed down later Friday night, according to the Champaign County Anti-Racist Coalition’s Twitter page. By Saturday afternoon, the sidewalk surrounding Alma Mater had been re-chalked.
Materre said that Friday’s protest was focused on introducing students to activism in the Champaign-Urbana community.
“This is the welcome,” Materre said. “We’re like ‘welcome, see how you can get involved.’ So (that’s) what tonight is about, telling students, and not just about campus stuff, but (about) community stuff.”