BLM demonstration held in Rock Island

Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 11:35 PM CDT
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ROCK ISLAND, Illinois (KWQC) -

Roughly two dozen protesters gathered at Schwiebert Park in Rock Island Friday evening to protest against different systems of oppression. The group marched to the Centennial bridge where they occupied the sidewalk in the middle of the bridge.

With the 4th of July approaching, one of the organizers, Corinne McDowell said Independence Day is not for people who look like her or marginalized communities.

“The original creation of this country’s constitution, all of the sort, that doesn’t have anything to do with me, and I feel that we can’t celebrate freedom until everyone in this country is free,” she said.

McDowell said freedom looks like an equal opportunity.

“We say that everyone has the same opportunities for the American dream, but I feel that multiple layers of systemic oppression keep that from happening and we have to keep calling it out. We have to keep doing what we can to really have freedom in this country for everyone, not just a few,” she said.

Adam Cady, another organizer, said they’d also like to see some significant changes in city budgets.

“We’d like to essentially defund the police and refund humanity. Take a lot of the money that’s currently going to the police throughout the Quad Cities [and] put that into mental health care, into rebuilding communities, that sort of thing. I know there are some organizations in Iowa in particular that we’re involved with that have more concrete demands,” he said.

With July being National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, McDowell thought it was important to advocate for mental health awareness as well.

“I think it’s very important that we talk about mental health, and the adverse effects of police brutality that it’s had on the Black community specifically but other marginalized communities across the country across the world,” she said, “mental health is very important and we see too often that it’s not taken seriously so I would love to bring attention to that and make sure that people know that it is real and it impacts people”.

The group chose to occupy the Centennial Bridge to show unity between two states and to show that there are people from both sides of the river that are fighting for the same cause. They said they’re going to keep this going as long as they need to.

“I’m willing to come out and willing to help organize and willing to put my body on the line [for] as many protests as I need to. Until change actually happens,” Cady said, “even a small protest like this can send a great message”.

“This is my life. I can’t take my skin color off, other marginalized groups can’t change their identities, and we have to keep fighting. We have to keep the conversation going. So that in turn, down the line, we actually all can live the way we want to,” McDowell said.

Copyright 2020 KWQC. All rights reserved.

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