LOWELL — A demonstration here gathered nearly 100 protesters, a group of Invaders and a handful of residents openly carrying guns. It ended in prayer, discussion and peace.
Eighteen-year-old Keyra Horst-Moor, of Lowell, and 20-year-old Cedric Caschetta, of Lowell, organized the demonstration, which began Thursday afternoon in Freedom Park and ended in Liberty Park.
“I’ve been dealing with a lot of turmoil,” Horst-Moore said. “I’m mixed race, so I sometimes feel silenced by both sides. With the death of George Floyd, like many of you, it stirred something in me that this is not right. Then I saw the rioting and looting and I was angry. Then I had a wave of peace wash over me and I told myself to calm down and think of something good. Something that’ll show what we stand for. Let’s create unity. I made a sign that said, ‘I have a dream of peace.’”
Horst-Moore’s father, William Moore, greeted his daughter with a hug, saying, “I am very proud of what she is doing. These are very different times and people need to stand up and do something when something that’s not right is happening. It is what this country is all about.”
A group of Invaders Motorcycle Club members rode to Freedom Park and listened to Horst-Moore and Caschetta speak at the start of the event. The 18-year-old said she saw a lot of fear on social media that the protest would bring destruction to the quiet town of Lowell.
“I understand you guys are scared something could happen,” Horst-Moore said. “I understand and we don’t want anything like that to happen either. It’s OK to be afraid, it doesn’t make you a bad person. I want to make sure to tell everyone they are all loved and they are all respected here.”
Shouts of “freedom” and “liberty” and “no justice, no peace” rang out in Lowell neighborhoods as the group marched to Liberty Park. Many residents went outside to watch the procession, waving, honking horns and cheering. A pastor at Bethany Chapel sat outside offering bottles of water to the group as they walked by. There were also a couple residents who angrily shouted at them from their lawns.
The two young residents coordinated with Lowell Chief of Police Erik Matteson, who shut down the demonstrators’ route between the two parks to ensure safety.
“We are here to protect the marchers, the citizens and everyone involved,” Matteson said. “We appreciate them for working with us to make this the safest event possible.”
Several officers directed traffic and were with demonstrators when they came to the Liberty Park picnic shelter, in which a handful of men carrying firearms and other residents were standing inside.
Together, officers and Caschetta first approached the group waiting at the shelter. The demonstrators watched and waited a short distance away, until Caschetta told them, “Come in, we can share this space. It’s OK. It’s safe. Don’t be afraid.”
The demonstrators filed in and attendees had a chance to speak about their own testimonies and share their thoughts on the movement. As they spoke about their hopes for the future and the trials they have endured, everyone under the picnic shelter applauded.
By the end, the demonstrators invited the Invaders to join them on their march and thanked them for coming out.
On Monday, Caschetta walked at the Crown Point rally, where several people had gathered with firearms and shouted at protesters during their walk going north on Main Street into the bike trail. On Thursday, Caschetta said this time, he was glad they came to the demonstration.
“I think we definitely changed some hearts and minds and opened up eyes,” Caschetta said. “This was about peace and unity and it’s what we intended to do. I am glad they showed up and took the time to listen and to understand. Some of the Invaders walked up to me and said it’s changed their views.”
“They did a great job,” said Kaos, a member of the Invaders who asked that only his road name be used. “I live in town and I showed up early and asked why they were doing this and what they were doing. I’m a Desert Storm veteran and I fought for their right to peacefully protest. The way they did this was perfect. With what happened in Crown Point on Monday, I am disappointed in the counter protesters.”
Kaos said he empathizes with Caschetta and Horst-Moore’s message.
“I talked to Cedric’s dad for a while and we were talking about how it’s not just one color of people being treated unfairly by police,” Kaos said. “I get pulled over because I’m riding and wearing my Invaders vest. But Cedric didn’t choose the color of his skin and I chose to wear this vest.”
Lowell residents Brian Bucenell and John Rogers stood by with a few other men who were openly carrying rifles.
“It went extremely well, which is the way communities should come together — having conversations” Bucenell said. “I was concerned with what I saw on the news. That’s why we’re here. We saw everything happening in other areas and just didn’t want to have that happen here.”
When asked about how the men think more peaceful gatherings can be facilitated, Rogers responded, “Stop judging people on the color of their skin, their career or clothes.”
“Start a conversation,” Bucenell added. “It takes two seconds to walk up to someone and say, ‘Hi, how are you doing?’”
The demonstrators closed in prayer and they walked back to Liberty Park, thanking and cheering for the officers directing traffic along the way.
“In the end, it’s our generation to move on with the world. It’s going to be our generation to raise our kids and raise them the right way,” Caschetta said. “Are we going to let this past continue or are we going to change it? We’re supposed to be making a difference. We can’t follow what’s been going on in the past. We got to change it. Clearly, we got to change it and I think it’s time right now, Lowell, Indiana.”