Peaceful Demonstration for Racial Equity rally on Main Street
The First Congregational United Church of Christ, 865 Lincoln Lake SE, organized an event called “Peaceful Demonstration for Racial Equity” at 4 pm on Sunday, June 7 that concluded with a march up and down Main Street.
It was described in a press release as “a peaceful demonstration for racial equity and recognition of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubre and countless more.” Because of social distancing, most attendees remained in or near their vehicles during the event, which was limited to 30 minutes. The parking lot at the church was full of vehicles and many had to park on the grass.“Our Christian education director Shannon Hanley came up with the idea,” said First Congregational United Church of Christ pastor Alyssa Anten. “She brought to our attention that it was time that our church, being one of the more progressive churches in this community, took a stand and stated very clearly what we do not stand for and what we do stand for, and to invite the community to participate. To have an entirely full parking lot is incredible.”
“To me, Black Lives Matter means trying your best to acknowledge that there are crimes committed against the black community every year in Lowell and around the world,” said one demonstration attendee. “We're doing what we can with our position and our privilege to speak out against it.”
“There is still a fundamental disparity between the rights of whites and blacks in this country, even today,” said another attendee of the demonstration.
“I think that in order for people to say 'all lives matter,' black lives have to matter first,” said Keagan, a Lowell resident.
“This was a good opportunity to see our community pulling together for something like this,” said Michelle from Lowell.
“I'm here to support the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Delaney from Lowell. “We thought this was a good option.”
“We're just here to show our support,” said Becca, a Lowell resident. “We feel that black people shouldn't have to go through stuff like this at all.”
At 4:10, they observed nine minutes of silence, the approximate amount of time George Floyd was pinned down by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. After that, Anten delivered a brief speech that was broadcast over Facebook live.
“Some of our human family has intentionally been put down for centuries and are, rightfully so, standing up and saying no more,” Anten said. “They are asking for us to do better. They are asking to be treated the same way any of us want to be treated. They are asking that we right all of the wrongs that we have allowed to happen for far too long.”
The action then moved downtown for a peaceful march of just over 100 people through the Main Street business district. The headcount at this march was slightly higher, but the difference in number was trivial.
“This is absolutely overwhelming,” Anten said. “I think these people will change Lowell.”