Elgin community gathers to protest rape culture

Dozens of people gathered Wednesday at Elgin Community College to raise awareness about and resistance to rape culture.

Now in its sixth year, Elgin's The Long Red Line is a visual demonstration of solidarity supporting the One Billion Rising global movement in protest of rape, domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment of men, women and children.

Participants don red scarves or pieces of fabric forming one long red line. People have been creating scarlet scarves for "The Long Red Line" since fall 2013. The color red was chosen because of its association with blood, vitality, passion, courage, sexuality and aggression.

The program was designed to encourage people who have experienced battery, sexual violence or harassment to seek counseling and to give them the courage to speak out, said Mary Shesgreen, chairwoman of Fox Valley Citizens for Peace and Justice.

Guest speakers included Elgin Area School District U-46 school board member Traci O'Neal Ellis, who spoke about raising boys.

Ellis, executive director of human resources at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora, received the 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award from Elgin's Human Relations Commission.

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda spoke about men's roles and responsibilities toward changing rape culture and the objectification of women.

  Elgin Community College Student Life Director Amybeth Maurer, center, holds a red scarf Wednesday during The Long Red Line event supporting the One Billion Rising global movement to raise awareness about and resistance to rape culture. Brian Hill/
  Participants hold up red scarves Wednesday during The Long Red Line at Elgin Community College. Brian Hill/
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