HAMMOND — Once again calls of “No Justice, no peace” echoed on Region ground in the wake of the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man by a now-former Minnesota police officer.
Around 50 people gathered Thursday evening in front of Hammond City Hall for a rally that was organized by several Northwest Indiana organizations. As the group rallied with flags and signs, honks of support resounded on Calumet Avenue. At one point, a young child yelled “Black Lives Matter” out of the back window of a minivan, eliciting raised fists and claps from those standing on the sidewalk.
As Kim McGee, a member of Black Lives Matter NWI-Gary, addressed the crowd with microphone in hand, she said she has been emotional in the face of recent events.
“I got emotional, with all of the circumstances and incidents keep building up, I tend to get more angry,” McGee said. “We just need to keep pushing back and standing up. They want us to keep quiet. Even here in Gary trying to get more transparency from the prosecutor’s office.”
While the name of George Floyd still resounds prominently within the movement, the deaths of 20-year-old Daunte Wright, who was shot by police Sunday in Minneapolis, and 13-year-old Adam Toledo, who was shot by police March 29 by a Chicago officer in the city, have been added to the list of names. Local activists said they expect the list to keep growing.
“As long as we are living under this system, there’s going to be more tragedy, more deaths, and the more we have to fight back,” said Lorrell Kilpatrick, a member of BLM NWI-Gary and United Against Racism.
Just hours before the rally, Chicago police released the footage of Toledo being shot by a Chicago officer, showing the teen running away and appearing to allegedly drop a handgun and raise his hands when he was fatally shot.
“We had an awesome turnout, given the weather and the psychological well-being of everyone right now with the video of Adam Toledo that just came out,” Kilpatrick said. “It empowered 50 people to show up, because a lot of people had seen it.”
One attendee who got up to speak said, as she looked at the crowd around her, “I know that I am not alone.”
“We are living in interesting times,” said Jay Jameson, of Hammond. “We are told to be peaceful and respect property and respect police. And while we are told to be peaceful, they are waging a war.”
Much of the two-hour rally included attendees taking turn with the microphone to express their feelings and thoughts, which was something Kilpatrick hopes bring healing to a hurting community.
“We want to be here for people,” Kilpatrick said. “Right now, fresh off this tragedy, people need to be heard.”
Hundreds of miles away in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, civilians and police have clashed in protests every night since Wright was shot. Tear gas has been deployed and a nightly curfew was implemented in Brooklyn Center.
A second-degree manslaughter charge was filed against former Brooklyn Center police Officer Kim Potter three days after Wright was killed. Wright was fatally shot by Potter while fleeing from police at a traffic stop that was initiated for expired license plates. Potter was charged with second-degree manslaughter. On Tuesday, Potter and Chief of Police Tim Gannon announced their resignations.
However, a trial is still ahead. McGee said looking to the future, “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I know it’s not over.”
“I definitely think people are going to continue to come out and rally, and unfortunately, they keep giving us a reason to come out,” she said.