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EDITORIAL: NWI mayors extend peaceful solidarity amid protests, unrest
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EDITORIAL: NWI mayors extend peaceful solidarity amid protests, unrest

From the Collection: The Region responds to the death of George Floyd series

Our nation was founded on the right of our populace to protest injustice.

It's at the very heart of the freedom of speech protected by our Constitution's First Amendment.

Fortunately, some key Region leaders have shown us in recent days that they understand and are willing to facilitate these rights in person.

The end result, in most cases, have been demonstrations that unfolded and ended peacefully, with voices being heard on important social issues in ways that didn't jeopardize the lives or safety of others.

Mayors call for calm at Region protests

At the heart of these examples of sound leadership is an issue that is shaking our entire nation as the public reacts to the death, at the hands of Minneapolis police, of George Floyd last week.

A number of peaceful protests have resulted, but so have mindless violent street riots, death, looting and property destruction throughout our nation.

The first example of great Region leadership countering the worst possible outcomes emerged Saturday as protests unfolded in Hammond.

As protesters appeared to be prepared to march onto Interstate 80/94, one of the heaviest traveled transportation corridors in the country, police formed a barricade line at Calumet and 171st to stop it.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. could have just stayed safely home.

Instead, he was out on the scene with his officers. And he took an additional step, quite literally.

He stepped out into the crowd of protesters and began to speak with them. He listened to their concerns, acknowledged they had a right to be there and urged them to continue peacefully protesting without overtaking a major interstate and creating untold safety hazards for pedestrians and drivers.

McDermott's interaction with the crowd was well documented on a number of private videos posted to social media.

What he did seemed to work.

Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez, whose SWAT officers assisted in forming the barricade, credits McDermott with helping to redirect the protesters, keeping their legitimate message alive in a productive light.

Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor showed the same style of leadership Sunday when protesters flocked to the Southlake Mall parking lot, with some beginning to face off with police, who formed a tactical line to protect a major mall entrance.

Snedecor emerged from the police line and spoke with the front lines of protesters, urging calm and expressing understanding.

His actions were widely photographed and observed by Times reporters and editors who also were on scene.

And on Monday, it was Crown Point Mayor David Uran's turn.

A group of protesters rallied on Crown Point's downtown square near the iconic Old Lake County Courthouse, protesting the police actions that ended in the death of Floyd on Memorial Day in Minneapolis.

Early in the demonstration, Uran approached the gathering, peacefully introduced himself and his police chief and welcomed the protesters to his city.

Uran pledged they were free to exercise their freedoms on his streets as long as they kept it peaceful.

WATCH NOW: NWI reacts as protests foment over cop-involved killing of George Floyd

The crowd responded with applause.

And when the gathering of protesters was determined to march north on Main Street to the Lake County Government Center, Uran had his police cordon off a lane of the road for them to safely do so, even physically walking with the group himself.

Solidarity in times of national anguish is a powerful force.

In a time of overwhelming unrest throughout our country, these three Region mayors deserve praise for stepping forth and extending a peaceful hand to those who seek to be heard on an important social issue.

Gallery: Protesters gather in Crown Point


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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Regional News Editor Sharon Ross, Assistant Deputy Editor Andrew Steele.

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