By Brandon Reid
Senior Assistant Editor
A group of more than 100 protesters marched in downtown Rockford against police brutality Friday, Dec. 12.
The march, billed “The Justice Now March,” was organized by Pastor Melvin Brown of Kingdom Authority International Ministries. A flier for the event said: “In wake of the injustice we see going on nationally, we invite you to attend a peaceful march with us. We will march to the police station, the Justice Center, City Hall, Rockford Library, then back to 518 N. Court Street, where we will be holding a rally.”
The protest and peaceful rally began at Kingdom Authority International Ministries, 518 N. Court St., Rockford, at 1 p.m. Participants then marched down Court Street to West State — in front of the Public Safety Building — and to the parking lot on the southeast corner of West State and South Church streets, across from the Winnebago County Courthouse.
Marchers were carrying signs that said “I can’t breathe,” “Hands up,” “#BlackLivesMatter” and “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” among others. They also chanted “Black lives matter” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
While in the lot at the corner of West State and South Church, the group lay down in a “die-in” protest to reflect those who have died at the hands of alleged police brutality.
Following the “die-in,” the group entered Stewart Square, 308 W. State St., with the permission of the building owners, and then headed down State Street to Rockford City Hall, 425 E. State St., where they protested outside the building.
The protest comes in the wake of the fatal death on July 17, 2014, of Eric Garner at the hands of police officer Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island, New York, and the Aug. 9, 2014, fatal shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Neither officer was indicted in either case. Both victims were black and both officers were white.
Protests similar to the one held in Rockford Dec. 12 have been held throughout the world, particularly since the announcement in Ferguson Nov. 24 that Officer Wilson would not be indicted. That announcement set off a series of protests, riots and looting in the Ferguson area that required the deployment of the National Guard.
Garner’s death has drawn national attention, as a video of his death shows Garner telling police “I can’t breathe” 11 times as four officers restrain him face-down on the sidewalk.
Kingdom Authority International Ministries was the site of an officer-involved shooting death Aug. 24, 2009, when white Rockford Police officers Oda Poole and Stan North fatally shot African-American Mark Anthony Barmore, 23, in the church basement.
Editor’s note: Editor & Publisher Frank Schier and Staff Writer Jeremy Oster contributed to this report.
Posted Dec. 12, 2014