On Monday, Sept. 28, Truman State University students organized a march from the Department of of Public Safety to the Kirksville Police Department to protest the killing of Breonna Taylor, a Black Louisville, Kentucky, woman shot in her home by Louisville Metro Police Department officers in March. A candlelight vigil was held later that night.
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Senior Reece Ellis spoke to the crowd and urged them to move toward the Kirksville Police Station. Ellis said no official groups were organizing the event, rather a small group of concerned students planned it. Photos by Rachel Becker
All participants in the event were asked to wear a mask, amid COVID-19 concerns, and they were asked to bring signs. However, students were not too worried about the ongoing pandemic. “Racial injustice is a pandemic as well,” junior Alex Marco said.
Police officers were stationed around the protest to direct traffic around the crowd. Before the event started, Sara Seifert, Department of Public Safety director, met with the students to discuss safety protocol. “I just want you guys to be safe,” Seifert said. “You’re our students and I appreciate the fact you are out here advocating for your cause.”
Protesters made their way past the west side of the Student Union Building. As they passed Kirksville Mayor Zac Burden he gave them an approving thumbs up. “I am showing support for the fact that black lives matter in this country and they matter right here in Kirksville and we need to do more to take care of that,” Burden said.
Students stood outside the Kirksville Police Station for eight minutes. Eight is the number of times the police shot Taylor and how many minutes George Floyd pleaded for his life before being killed by police officers in March.
Students then made their way back to Truman DPS through campus. Law enforcement followed closely behind to ensure no cars entered into the crowd.
As they walked back to campus, the chant “Black lives matter” began. “So many people here, we are people of color and we want to tell the people of Kirksville that we do matter,” Joy Johnson, president of the Association of Black Collegians, said.
Protesters made their way back to campus after about 45 minutes of walking. The group grew as the march continued with roughly 200 people in attendance by the end.
The protest continued past Pickler Memorial Library. “We are here, we want to speak up about this and bring attention to it and show support to the larger Black Lives Matter movement,” junior Addie Leabo said. “We want to show it, not just tweet about it.”
Students walked past the north side of Baldwin Hall. They held signs with phrases such as, “Black lives matter,” ”ACAB” and “Say her name.”
In addition to the march, a candlelight vigil was held later Monday night. The event was held on the mall.
Candles were provided to participants of the vigil. The organizers of the event spoke before opening the floor for participants to also share their thoughts and experiences.
Speakers spoke at the top of the steps while the crowd gathered around. Students spoke about the Black Lives Matter movement, Breonna Taylor’s life and their personal experiences with prejudice.
An estimated 400 people joined the vigil. The crowd was composed of students, faculty, staff and community members.
Junior Daniel Terry was one of the organizers of the event. Terry spoke about the need to vote in November’s election.
This story has been updated since it was originally published.