About 30 gather at Tallmadge Circle to show support for Black Lives Matter

Demonstrations expected to continue on weekly basis

About 30 peaceful protesters gathered at Tallmadge Circle Tuesday afternoon to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Pictured from left are: Jasmine Grimm, 18, Grace Grimm, 18, and Keaira Wohlwend, 14.

TALLMADGE — About 30 people gathered at Tallmadge Circle Tuesday afternoon to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The peaceful demonstrators appeared to be mostly high school and college-age students. Many of them carried signs and spread out in smaller groups along the edge of Tallmadge Circle. Some drivers passing by honked their horns in support of the protesters’ messages. 

“I came out today because this is an important issue,” said Jasmine Grimm,18, who just graduated from Tallmadge High School and was holding a sign that said, “I stand with you, Black Lives Matter.” She said she has friends who are members of minority groups.

“I want to show them that I stand with them,” said Grimm. “This is my first protest and it’s very peaceful.”

Grimm’s twin sister, Grace, said she “felt the need to voice my opinion” for what she believed was “an important cause.”

The two-hour gathering concluded with demonstrators kneeling on one knee in silence in front of the veterans memorial on the interior of the circle for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, which was the amount of time that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on the neck of George Floyd.

Tallmadge resident Gage Prather, 18, who organized the protest, said Floyd called out for his mother while Chauvin’s knee was pressed into his neck. Chauvin and three other former officers (all four were fired) are facing charges in Floyd’s death. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and the other ex-officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

“And we still don’t even know if they’ll go to jail,” said Prather. “We don’t know any of that.”

While he encouraged his young cohorts to vote in elections, he said he believed that going to the polls will not solve all of the problems society is facing.

“We have made years of change in just these few weeks,” said Prather. “Years worth of change that voting would’ve taken forever [to change].”

Prather encouraged the young people to have dialogues with their parents and grandparents about the issues raised by Floyd’s death. 

“People cannot be silenced any longer,” said Prather. “White silence is violence. I’m sure you’ve heard it so many times and that’s because it’s true. You need to have these conversations with your parents, your grandparents, no matter how uncomfortable and heated, you need to stay calm. You need to present them with the facts … you need to show them the truth.”

Prather noted that as he and others stood around the circle, there were some drivers who passed by and yelled messages such as “white power,” and “black lives don’t matter.”  He also emphasized that the statement of “All Lives Matter is not a response to Black Lives Matter. They need to know that.”

Tallmadge resident Meagan Mayfield said she attended the gathering with her teenage daughters “in support of them … I think it’s important as a parent to be here and support them [and] let them know it’s OK to voice their opinion.”

Mayfield said she thought the group received “a pretty decent response from people going around the circle. A lot of beeps. Some yells.”

Prather said he will host similar gatherings on the circle each week for the foreseeable future.

“I encourage you to come out if you can and stand with me,” said Prather to the crowd at the end of the gathering. “If you have more time during the weeks, go stand at other protests.”

Prather implored attendees to protect themselves if they decide to participate in other protests and learn about proper treatments if they are pepper sprayed or tear gassed at a demonstration. He also urged attendees to donate supplies such as water to groups that organize protests.

Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, pkeren@recordpub.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.