In the wake of the Charlottesville riots, 250 protestors from all corners of the Toledo community marched in solidarity with Virginia Aug. 20 from the steps of the Student Union at the University of Toledo to the corner of Dorr St. and
Leading the march and yelling chants such as “Dump Trump!” and “Don’t just stand there, do something!” into a megaphone were three of the event’s organizers: Mike Miller, Kristyn Curnow-Miller and Ruth Leonard, a member of Toledo’s Black Lives Matter organization.
“This march was for everyone, not just students,” said Mike Miller, a second-year UT student and organizer of the event. “We all know that James Alex Jr. is not representative of the Toledo community. I didn’t want a black eye on the community, so I wanted to give the community a chance to show the country he doesn’t represent Toledo.”
The march and rally were held in direct response to Charlottesville, Neo-Nazis, racism, white supremacy and the KKK, but it was also meant to give people of color the space to express themselves, Miller said.
Julian Mack, a member of Black Lives Matter and an organizer of the event, said he was reading the Declaration of Independence off his phone during the march.
“It’s ironic,” said Mack. “[The writers of the document] were under tyranny. They wanted life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. They wanted to be free, and we want to be free today…the Declaration of Independence hasn’t applied to so many people in what we call the United States of America.”
After the march, Mack and Leonard led the open mic where protestors spoke at length about the ability to express oneself, what people must do to enact change and why it is important for everyone to stand against racism.
“What more is it going to take for us not to just stand there. Not just tweet about it. Not just condemn it and say it’s wrong, but to actually fucking do something,” said Mack. “If you can write, then write. If you can sing, then sing. Use your talents.”
Chris Goudos, a 2011 UT graduate and history teacher, said the Confederate statues need to come down because they put Jim Crow on a pedestal and they do not commemorate the men who died for the Confederacy.
“I don’t see statues of George Washington in Great Britain. Do you know why? They were traitors to the state who broke out in open rebellion,” said one speaker. “Why should they memorialize traitors?”
In response to the events in Charlottesville, Miller said everyone has the right to assemble and to say whatever they want, including the white supremacists and the KKK, but no one has the right to threaten people’s lives.
“Martin Luther King Jr. said that ‘Riot is the language of the oppressed,’ said Miller. “I think we need to stand up against that oppression.”