Protesters seek a common ground
STEUBENVILLE — Several city residents and visitors sought a common ground with passersby as they gathered in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse Tuesday to protest the death of George Floyd and other black Americans.
Signs held by the group read, “They could be your son” and “Am I next?” and participants called to passing drivers, “You matter. We all matter” and occasionally, “We love you.”
The calls were answered with similar phrases from men and women, black and white, in the passing vehicles.
The peaceful protest was similar to others staged Saturday and Sunday in the same area at which participants reported receiving some jeers and obscene gestures but also many honks of support.
One of Tuesday’s protesters — Noxxi Malone of Steubenville — noted their aim was to encourage all citizens to stand up for fair and equal treatment of everyone, regardless of skin color, race, religion or background.
Malone said to those who would discriminate, she would ask them “to just remember everybody is a human being like they are.”
The group had marched from American Legion Post 274, where a 30-year-old African-American male was found dead late Monday from a shooting under investigation by City Police.
“What prompted our peaceful protest is the loss of his life and many others,” said Helena Jones of Steubenville, who added, “I just know God put this in my heart today.
“We need to start something in our community that’s going to change the dynamics.”
Jones said in addition to cases of police brutality in many places, there are too many instances of injustices against minorities not being thoroughly investigated and prosecuted.
Asked for her reaction to fires, destruction of property and other violence at other protests, Malone said, “I think a lot of that is some taking advantage of the situation. We’re trying to make things better for everybody.”
Malone said too many people of color fear law enforcement.
“If an officer pulls them over for speeding, the average African-American will be automatically scared. They don’t know if they will make it home,” she said.
“There shouldn’t be a bad dynamic between people and those who are supposed to protect and serve. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Asked what can be done to improve relations between police and minorities, Malone said better screening is needed “to be sure you’re of sound mind to do the job.”
Asked what can be done to bring about change, she said, “I’m just one person, but we have to start in the city we live in. That’s where everybody needs to start.”
Jones’ teenage son, Charles Miller, said he came to support his mother.
Asked whether his generation can achieve better relations between races, Miller said, “If we step up and say something, I feel like we can do it because we have a lot of people behind us.”
He said the protesters’ key message is, “We all matter. Nobody is littler than other people. We’re all the same.”