Current and graduate students participate in BLM protests
JADIN KALTENBACH Opinion Editor
On May 25th of 2020, a black man by the name of George Floyd was killed after being handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer’s knee in an encounter that was captured on video. It has been reported that Floyd repeatedly told the officers involved that he couldn’t breathe, yet the actions taken against him continued for over eight minutes. His death resulted in an overwhelming surge of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests worldwide. In many cities around the world, protests continue to this day, four months after Floyd’s untimely death. These exercises of unity are in an effort to draw attention to police brutality and systematic racism, calling out injustices executed by those in positions of power.
Throughout these past four months of protesting, several members of the Bethel College community participated, current students and graduates alike. Some of these individuals identify themselves as people of color who are directly impacted on a daily basis by injustice while others are family and friends who recognize the injustice done and are using their privilege to speak up accordingly.
Senior Jaylen Randle was able to attend two BLM protests, one in Wichita and one in the city of Newton.
“The first BLM protest I attended was in late may/early June in Wichita, Kansas. I originally did not plan on attending the rally until I realized it was conveniently being held at the police station across the street from my grandmother's house. I’m glad I attended because I saw actual unity in a community. A city that not only the people want better change but the police did as well. They were willing to take that step forward and communicate with the community. The atmosphere was welcoming. Everyone that was there was there for the right reasons.”
Sophomore Jazlyn Reese attended a BLM protest in her home city of Dallas, Texas.
“The atmosphere was very positive (from protesters), and it was uplifting to see so many different people out protesting together, despite the pandemic. I felt really good to be a part of something so important.”
Several students of Bethel College’s 2020 graduating class participated in protests over the summer months including Akiyaa Hagen-Depusoir, Isaiah Smith, Terrell Marshall, Curtis Bent and Joseph Winfield while 2020 graduate Kyla Miller orchestrated a peaceful protest in downtown Newton.
Smith attended a skateboarding event in Kansas City that turned into an active protest after an injustice was done during the event.
Winfield and Bent were two of several Bethel College alumni that were in attendance at an BLM protest in Omaha, Nebraska.
In a time when activism and change knocks on society’s front door, there is hope. For Randle and those who have chosen to actively participate in protest, it all comes down to what the movement means to them.
“To me Black Lives Matter means that I matter, that the life of African Americans should be equal to others. This is not an antagonist movement to say that others don’t matter but to say that we want to be your equal, to be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. All lives can't matter until Black Lives Matter.”