Athens Spreads Messages Of Love And Calls For Justice Uptown During Sidewalk Chalk Event< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Athenians of all ages met uptown on Sunday afternoon to chalk the sidewalks with messages, affirming support of the black community and calling for justice after the death of George Floyd.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter days after the release of a video showing him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than seven minutes. Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital.
The Athens sidewalk chalk event coincided with a national family day of action called “Wee Chalk the Walk.” The national event was organized in part by Wee the People, a Boston-based organization that aims to teach children aged 4-12 about social justice.
Athens participants started at the county courthouse and spread up and down Court and Washington streets. Their messages included “Athens stands in solidarity,” “Black lives matter to me,” “Justice NOW,” and “No justice, no peace.” The event was organized by Vicky Mattson.
One group brought ingredients to make their own colorful chalk paint, using corn starch, water, and food coloring. Several people passing by the county courthouse stopped to add their own message.
On Washington Street, delfin bautista wrote “sí se puede,” which means “yes you can” or “yes, it can be done” in Spanish. bautista said they wanted to share several messages with fellow Athens residents and people across the United States.
“One is solidarity with actions here in Athens but especially with actions that are happening across the country, for folks to know that we here in Athens care and we are with them, and especially with them in spirit,” bautista said. “Second, that enough is enough, as many of the chalk drawings and writings share. That we need to bring an end to the violence, and this is a simple yet powerful way of raising up that message.”
Mary Nally said she heard about Sunday’s event through social media.
“This is a good first step for my own responsibility to respond and stand up and be in solidarity with those that are on the front lines of the demonstrations across the country right now,” she said.
“In any time of crisis like this, there is an opportunity that opens for us as a society to address our longstanding problems, including racism and police brutality. I think most of us, hopefully, understand that this is a significant systemic issue, but it has made feel optimistic for our nation that there is still the energy and will to try to rectify those wrongs.”