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Protesters in Dyer: 'Our kids are scared to grow up into black men because they don't want to be killed'
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Protesters in Dyer: 'Our kids are scared to grow up into black men because they don't want to be killed'

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DYER — Scores of protesters gathered at Pheasant Hills Park early Saturday afternoon to protest racism, injustice and recent police killings, including of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

"There's something wrong, there's something wrong if you're OK with what you saw happen to that man," Jerrod Davis, of Chicago Heights, said. "Whoever you are, whether you drive a Harley or a minivan, if you're okay with watching somebody stand on somebody's neck for 10 minutes, we've got a problem. You don't have to like me. Marlboro or Newports, Budweiser or Old English, aren't we all just trying to put in 40 hours and feed our families and go home? Do you know how much work it takes to hate? I'm tired of it. You've got people driving by wishing they could shoot at us just because we don't want more people to die needlessly."

Davis said he used to tell his children if something went wrong, find a cop. Now he said he's no longer sure what to tell them.

"There are little black boys here. On Christmas Day, police were driving around dropping off toys," Davis said. "This one was scared to death, I didn't find out until two months later, he thought they were going to shoot him."

He said he's been discriminated against since he was teenager, recalling when he was pulled over in the south suburbs.

"They were polite, but I got field sobriety tested, 'who's car is this?' tested, 'it's not on any hot lists' tested. While wearing work clothes with a bow tie, I got tested," he said. "I'm tired of it. I'm on the receiving end. But if you're not on the receiving end, you've got to be tired of watching people die."

The demonstrators marched around the park, which had a heavy police presence that included barriers and bike patrols. A few men with assault rifles and cargo shorts stood behind police, one wearing a "don't tread on me" shirt and an American flag as a cape with another donning a tactical vest.

Protesters, waving signs like "Human rights aren't a political statement" and “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Isaiah 1:17," included many small children and dogs. A few elected officials were on hand.

Dyer Town Councilman Steve Kramer, wearing a USW face mask, said he came out to show support since diversity was one of the community's strengths.

"I'm very proud of our community. I'm proud of our police department too. They've done an excellent job," he said. "This is a peaceful protest to make people aware of these issues."

State Rep. Chris Chyung, who joined a line of sign-waving protesters along Hart Street, also said he was proud of the activism in the community.

"I don't support defunding the police entirely, but I believe police reform is something everyone can agree on," he said. "Let's make our police better, not just take money from them."

The protest ended with nine minutes of silence in memory of Floyd, who died after a now-fired Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly that long despite his pleas that he couldn't breathe.

Raegan Terese Bricks-Davis, of Chicago Heights, one of the organizers of the protest, said it was difficult to explain to her children why people got treated differently because of the amount of melanin in their skin.

"My 6-year-old told me, 'mommy, I'm scared to grow up. I don't want to grow up," she said. "I asked, 'Why is that son?' 'Because I'm going to grow up to a black man. I don't want to be killed.' He's 6. He's 6 years old. That's the hate a 6-year-old sees in the world. A 6-year-old is scared to grow up because at what point will be become a threat? When he's 10? When he's 11? When he's 15, 16 or 17? Our children's lives matter. All lives cannot matter until their lives matter."

Collection: The Region responds to the death of George Floyd

Following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, organizers throughout multiple municipalities in the Region joined with others in rallying against systemic racism.

View stories, photo galleries and videos reported by staff and correspondents from multiple days of protest coverage.

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Demonstrators have a standoff with police on U.S. 30 by Southlake Mall in Hobart. The peaceful standoff later escalated when police resort to …

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Despite Cpl. Monte White’s instinct to engage with the woman, he said he kept silent — well aware that his job in that moment was to keep peace. He couldn’t drop his guard due to the intensifying crowd of protesters that stood a few, short feet away. 

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Protesters rallying for justice for George Floyd recited names of Black victims as part of their chants on Saturday in Pheasant Hills Park. Vi…

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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