Arlington Heights protesters peacefully decry racism, police brutality

  • Hundreds gathered at North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday carrying signs and marching during a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd.

      Hundreds gathered at North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday carrying signs and marching during a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Destiny Sander, 17, of Arlington Heights chants with the crowd during a protest and vigil Sunday in memory of George Floyd at North School Park in Arlington Heights.

      Destiny Sander, 17, of Arlington Heights chants with the crowd during a protest and vigil Sunday in memory of George Floyd at North School Park in Arlington Heights. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Hundreds of people gathered Sunday for a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd at North School Park in Arlington Heights.

      Hundreds of people gathered Sunday for a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd at North School Park in Arlington Heights. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Marchers carry signs around North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday during a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd.

      Marchers carry signs around North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday during a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd. Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Marchers carry signs around North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday during a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd.

      Marchers carry signs around North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday during a protest and vigil in memory of George Floyd. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 5/31/2020 8:11 PM

Hundreds of protesters marched along the edge of North School Park in Arlington Heights Sunday afternoon, lifting their voices against systemic racism and police brutality directed at people of color.

It was a peaceful protest, but filled with stinging utterances. Carrying signs bearing slogans like, "I Still Can't Breathe," "No Justice, No Peace" And "Stop Killing," the throng of around 300 chanted, "I can't breathe ... get off my neck," "Black lives matter," and "What's his name? ... George Floyd."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The protest was arranged by a group of area high school and college students, including Rolling Meadows High School student Cordelia Skuldt, her sister, Rolling Meadows High graduate Lucia Skuldt and Rolling Meadows High School student Sophia Baldassano.

"I wanted to be involved in some way," said Cordelia, who lives in Arlington Heights. "And I wanted to bring activism to Arlington Heights, because I feel like we are so privileged to be sheltered from the danger and violence that is so prevalent in Chicago and other cities."

Floyd's killing, which she called "sad and inhumane and evil," was especially painful for her, since she has friends and family in the Minneapolis area.

Both she and her sister addressed the crowd during the intervals between marching.

"A protest is not the only thing we can or should do," Lucia said. "Let us be vigilant. We have to be faithful fighters of the evil that permeates this world. Because as Desmond Tutu said, 'To be silent is to take the side of the oppressor.'"

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Sophia and Hersey High School graduate Hannah Kersemeier took turns reading statements like, "I can walk home with Skittles. Trayvon Martin couldn't," and "I can get a normal traffic ticket. Sandra Bland couldn't."

They concluded by saying in unison, "White privilege is real."

Harper College student and Rolling Meadows grad and Roger Velazquez read the names of those who have died in police-involved deaths, including George Floyd and Eric Garner, before the gathering joined him in a moment of kneeling and silence.

"We are all striving for this change," Velazquez said. "We all want our voices to be heard."

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