Hundreds In Athens Join Nationwide Day Of Protest< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A crowd of at least 500 people lined the streets in Athens for a peaceful protest on Tuesday, joining a day of demonstrations across the United States after the death of George Floyd.
Throughout the afternoon, various people spoke from the steps of the county courthouse. Ohio University student KeShawn Mellon called for eight minutes of silence, in honor of Floyd. Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen on video holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd repeatedly told Chauvin he could not breathe.
“He couldn’t breathe for eight minutes. Can you imagine?” Mellon asked the crowd. “He did not deserve to die. None of us do.”
People stood or knelt, and raised their fists as traffic continued to move through.
At one point, a man picked up the microphone and called for everyone to move into the Court Street and block traffic. Several people walked into the street, but many others cried out and asked them to stop, and to keep the protest peaceful.
The moment of tension was short-lived. The man continued to kneel in the street, ignoring the words of a woman asking him to return to the sidewalk, until another man walked forward and pleaded for him to stop.
Twice, the group of people marched up Court Street, through College Green, up College Street and down Washington Street, shouting “Black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace,” “I can’t breathe,” and several other phrases. Athens Police Department officers asked oncoming traffic to stop so the protesters could move through.
The crowd dispersed shortly before 5p.m.
Athens residents Jenni Deddens and Leo Magden said they were proud to see their community come together.
“People of all walks of life have come together to really prove a point,” Deddens said. “It’s awesome.”
“We’re just here for solidarity, believe in the cause and want to show it, because there’s power in numbers,” Magden said. “So, the more people who show up, the more powerful it is.
“It means a lot to be from here and see my community come out in full support like this. I wouldn’t expect anything less from Athens.”
Rex Bundy said he came in from Logan, and said he was “trying to be part of history.”
“A lot of things have to change,” he said. “I don’t know, this is bigger than all of us. I guess everyone has to do their part, and be counted.”