GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.
Over 500 people gathered in the streets Saturday, May 30 honoring George Floyd with a vigil and a protest addressing racial inequality. On Monday, June 1, over 600 marched through the streets to protest at the Grand Junction Police Station. Now, it’s Tuesday, June 2 and the numbers of protesters are down, but the message is still loud and clear.
Kim Smith from the “Pay It Forward 365” organization says, “There’s police brutality that happens in our community, here in Grand Junction, Colorado. I think a lot of people think this is a big city issue, but it’s not.”
Smith says she’s not standing on the corner showing support, she’s behind the scenes trying to make changes to policies. Smith suggests, “I understand they deal with de-escalation training and anti-bias training once a year. Maybe that needs to happen more often. Maybe they need to use more evidence based practices. I don’t know what that looks like, but we need to start the conversation.”
This protest took place at North Avenue and 5th Street, but the original protest was supposed to take place at North Avenue and 7th Street. Still, another protest made up of teenagers located at the busiest intersection between Denver and Salt Lake City on North Avenue and 12th Street, is also practicing their First Amendment right. “It’s as important as the big ones. Even the littlest gestures can get you far, and even though we’re not a big group, we can still make a big impact by spreading awareness,” says Aiga Petelo.
One of the peaceful protesters from the teenage group suffered mild heat stroke in the 95 degree heat while serving as a voice for racial injustice. She was checked out by EMT’s, cleared and released back to her mom who said she’s proud of her daughter for standing up for her beliefs. When the young peaceful protester was asked what’s next, she says, “I’ll be at the protest tomorrow at 4 p.m.”