Event continues trend of communities big and large showing support for reform following George Floyd’s death.
About 600 people gathered Saturday in Mount Horeb to support “Black Lives Matter” and to protest the death of George Floyd and other African American men and women who have died during interactions with the police.
This time of year, the Norwegian heritage village of roughly 7,000 people, is typically celebrating the Summer Frolic Festival. Although the festival was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the circumstances following Floyd’s death and years of systemic racism in America prompted residents to hold this event.
Where the corn bingo tent usually stands, a crowd carrying signs saying “Enough is Enough,” and “I Can’t Breathe,” instead gathered for a peaceful demonstration.
Mount Horeb high school students from the Serve 2 Unite club took turns telling the stories of about a dozen Black people killed by police. The crowd took a knee, and then stood in solemn silence for eight minutes and 43 seconds, the amount of time it took for a Minneapolis police officer to asphyxiate George Floyd.
Before the silence, local student Ally Gundrum told the crowd, “Reflect and set your own resolve to be a force for change in your community, your workplace and the world beyond.”
Gundrum introduced Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, Dane County’s first and only Africian American legislator.
Stubbs shared her story of being racially profiled as she campaigned in a neighborhood on Madison’s West Side. Someone called Madison Police and the officer thought she was a drug dealer, even after she saw Stubbs’ campaign literature and name tag. The officer also hassled her 71-year-old mother and 8-year-old daughter.
“My race was out of place in that neighborhood,’’ she said. “I was racially profiled.”
Stubbs thanked the crowd for coming out, and told them they were important as allies in the struggle.
“There’s something about when privilege stands with those we don’t have it,’’ she said. “Go home and have those difficult conversations that we have to have every day. Thank you for this invitation to your community and for allowing me to tell you that what you’re doing does matter.
The crowd then marched up Blue Mounds Street to Main Street, and down Main Street, chanting “Say his name: George Floyd,” and “No Justice, No Peace.” The march ended at Brix Cider, where there was a large “Black Lives Matter” sign and memorials to Floyd and others who died at the hands of police.