GOSHEN — Along busy streets and main thoroughfares, protesters gathered Wednesday throughout Goshen in another demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
This time, instead of a large crowd clustered in one place, the plans called for spreading messages out across the city — the decision was with respect to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19. From about 3–6 p.m., demonstrators lined busy roads such as College Avenue, Plymouth Avenue, Main Street from around Goshen College up through downtown, and U.S. 33 through the city.
Many held signs and waved at passing motorists for the non-violent event. Drivers often honked horns in support.
“We really want to increase visibility and get the message out to people all over town,” said Michael Genau, the protest’s organizer.
Genau stood at the edge of the Goshen College campus along College Avenue holding a Black Lives Matter sign. He intended for Wednesday’s rally to serve as a stand against racism and white supremacy. It followed demonstrations that have been held locally and nationwide in outrage against the deaths of people of color this year. The deaths include George Floyd, who was killed by a police officer May 25 in Minneapolis, and Breonna Taylor, who was killed by police in Louisville in March.
Genau wanted to stand as an ally in support of the approximately 1,000 Goshen residents who identify as black; to show Floyd’s death was not an isolated incident and that there are opportunities for racial healing here; and to call out white supremacist attitudes.
“To challenge those to rethink those views,” Genau said.
Genau said he’s received support so far from local residents, Assembly Mennonite Church, Benton Mennonite Church, Berkey Avenue Mennonite Church and Maple City Health Care Center.
Kyle Shoemaker and his daughter, Maeven, who live along Eighth Street, joined a group along South Main Street near Lafayette Street. Holding signs, Shoemaker said he took the opportunity because his daughter wanted to participate and, “support and stand up for what’s right.”
“I just wanted to join,” Maeven Shoemaker said.
A group of Greencroft residents participated by holding signs from the edge of the senior living community along College Avenue near 16th Street.
“We wanted to show our support for what’s happening, and we couldn’t go where there’s large crowds. And this was billed as being separate and along the highway, so it was a natural for old folks,” said Jep Hostetler, of Goshen. “It’s way past time. If you look at the history of what’s happening, our African-American friends have been under such bad circumstances for so many years, it’s way past time. So we need to speak up.”
Protesters also gathered downtown. Several stood near the Elkhart County Courthouse around Main Street and Lincoln Avenue. Others, including Riley Mills, of Goshen, covered the four corners at the intersection of Main and Washington streets.
“I personally am here because any opportunity I get to support our whole community, I try to take that opportunity,” Mills said.
GOSHEN — Energized by the May 31 protest in downtown Goshen held in response to the deaths of George Floyd and other black Americans by police…
She stood in support of the overall Black Lives Movement. But she also represented a new initiative called 4Us. Mills described how the group is seeking city permission to paint a Black Lives Matter mural in the center of Main and Washington streets.
“The hope is to have other community organizations around Goshen come together, and each one gets their own letter,” Mills said. “The whole community coming together to support those who are being marginalized, and that’s just the first step. Obviously, the goal is to create more substantial change.”
The issue was raised at the Goshen City Council meeting Tuesday, but the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety will have to make the decision.
“That choice to go ahead and allow for this to happen would mean a lot to this community,” Mills said.
As part of Wednesday’s protest, Genau planned to have a videographer driven along demonstration routes, starting from Walmart, 2304 Lincolnway East, and record participants to try and capture the scope of the movement.