HUDSON — There were chants of "Black Lives Matter," and "I Can’t Breathe," drivers honking their horns in support, and young people holding signs carrying messages such as "Root Out Racism" and "Silence is Violence."
Those were some of the sights and sounds from a gathering of about 50 demonstrators — mostly high school- and college-age students — who stood on sidewalks at the intersection of State Routes 91 and 303 on Tuesday to peacefully display their support for the Black Lives Matter movement following the recent death of George Floyd. A group of about 40 to 50 people returned to the site on Wednesday, and again on Thursday.
Hudson Police Chief Perry Tabak said the crowd was "orderly and peaceful" and noted he spoke to some protesters and "thanked them for not obstructing traffic and being orderly."
Demonstrators noted the turnout and the support they were receiving displayed the strong emotions experienced by people in the city and around the country.
"I think this is proof that it doesn’t matter what town you go to," said Lydia Bach, a Hudson resident who attended. "Everyone is angry."
Nick Matolka of Hudson also attended and stated, "People are recognizing it’s important to, even in this little community, share their voice, make sure people are being seen, people are being heard."
Floyd died on May 25 after he was arrested by Minneapolis police. Four police officers involved in the case were fired and all four are now facing criminal charges in connection with Floyd’s death. Former officer Derek Chauvin, who pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck, is charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
On Tuesday, what began as a gathering of a few people in the mid-afternoon morphed into a larger demonstration of about 50 participants by 9 p.m. Approximately 10 to 15 people were standing at each of the four corners of the 91/303 intersection.
There was not one organized group that set up the demonstration. Anna Arsham said she received a text from Traci Adams on Tuesday afternoon encouraging her to join her downtown.
"People kept joining in one by one," said Arsham, who noted she used Snapchat to spread the word about the gathering.
Arsham said she was encouraging participants to donate to Reclaim the Block and Black Lives Matter.
Like other young people who were there, Charles Maupin said he attended "to support this movement," and added, "I think if you’re not at least speaking about it, you’re on the side of the oppressor."
Hudson resident Corinne Hunt said she came downtown to "show my support for the black community," and noted she felt it was important to "take a deep look at our justice system as a whole," and to try to have people "re-look at how they look at things and to take on a new perspective."
The young demonstrators chanted messages such as "No justice, no peace, prosecute the police," and "Silence is violence." There was also a chant where group members on one side of Route 91 yelled "Say his name!" and members on the opposite side answered "George Floyd!" This method was also used to name Trayvon Martin and Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot by Louisville, Ky. Police Department officers in her apartment in March.
Many motorists passing through the intersection on Tuesday night honked their horns and some drivers gestured to indicate their support of the group’s message. A group of demonstrators cheered wildly after a Hudson EMS ambulance driver honked his horn while he was stopped at the intersection.
Arsham, who said she had been at the event for several hours on Tuesday, recounted that most drivers were supportive, but noted there was a passing driver who yelled "white power."
Matolka agreed that drivers who passed by were supportive for the most part, but added he saw some motorists "shaking their heads" as they drove through the intersection.
Man faces menacing charge
Police were contacted about one incident involving a driver who was passing by on Tuesday.
Tabak said some demonstrators on Tuesday night told police that a man in a black SUV sprayed water at them and then threw a piece of cardboard in their direction.
"[On] one side [of the cardboard] was a handwritten message that read ‘You're lucky it's not gas,’" said Tabak. "On the other side it said "15 [minutes] I'm coming back w/ matches."
Tabak said his officers used witness information to locate the suspect — a 35-year-old Hudson man — a short time later and charge him with menacing, a fourth-degree misdemeanor.
The chief said there were no other reported incidents in connection with the protests.
"We are very thankful that the protests we have seen have been peaceful and urge people to be courteous and respectful to each other, regardless of their differences and beliefs," said Tabak. "We are fortunate in Hudson to have a very supportive community. Not all are as blessed."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.