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Peaceful Black Lives Matter march held in Harvard

The names of black men and women killed by police resounded throughout downtown Harvard Thursday night, as people chanted them aloud during a peaceful protest.

About 100 people came to a Black Lives Matter march that began in Mary D. Ayer Park in Harvard to honor the memory of George Floyd.

Floyd, a black man, died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds,while Floyd exclaimed that he couldn’t breathe.

“Our system is just really broken right now,” Harvard resident Yesenia Garcia said. “It’s always been broken, honestly, and at this point I feel like the younger generation has just had enough of it. So have I.”

Yesenia Garcia held up a sign with a man painted on it, saying “If nothing changes, who will be the next?”

“Who will be the next victim of police brutality or injustice?” Yesenia Garcia said. “It’s just so sad seeing this happening over and over.”

Harvard resident Fernando Mercado said he wants to see people get treated equally.

“We want change,” Mercado said. “We want justice. ... [If] people protest, I think we can do a lot.”

In honor of Floyd, marchers had an eight-minute moment of silence when they arrived downtown. Some used their face masks to make a statement, writing “I can’t breathe” and “Black Lives Matter” on them.

Some vehicles honked in solidarity with the protesters, while other drivers held fists up in support.

The march was organized by Liliana Garcia, a Harvard resident and Bradley University student, and McHenry County College student Fernando Pichardo of Harvard.

Liliana Garcia said there was a comment made in a public forum, addressed to Pichardo, telling him to go back to his country.

This comment reminded Pichardo about why the movement against racism matters so much.

“Any form of racism is not OK,” Liliana Garcia said. “I’m sad that we have to do this. ... It’s 2020. We were promised equality.”

Speaking to the crowd in the park, Liliana Garcia said this movement is way more than just a trend.

“When you see acts of discrimination, you need to speak up,” she said.

Pichardo said he, his friends and siblings have been discriminated against, and he sees discrimination in schools.

“We want to change for the next generation,” Pichardo said. “I have a niece and I have a little sister. I don’t want them to be going through what we’re going through.”

He reminded the other protesters that racism exists everywhere, “but it also exists here.”

Kevin Anthony, originally from Chicago, moved to Harvard two years ago.

He and his girlfriend, Harvard resident Soul Soto, brought to the protest a large white sign with the names of some of the black men and women killed by police since 2015 written on it.

On another sign, they wrote that the fact that they don’t have enough room on the sign to name all of the black and brown people who have been murdered by police proves that white privilege exists.

“It’s been an uphill battle for me,” Anthony, who is black, said regarding the fight for equality, but also when it comes to furthering his career. “Because of my skin color, I’ve been able to be a temp, but not hired on.”

Members of the Harvard Police Department were present to direct traffic and make sure the roads protesters walked along stayed closed.

Harvard Police Chief Mark Krause told the crowd before the march that “it’s great to look out here see all the young faces.”

“From the police department’s standpoint, we are strong supporters of the First Amendment,” Krause said. “We believe in your right to free speech, we believe in your right to protest. That’s why we’re all out here tonight.”

Harvard resident Tinayia Poole said everybody has to go home to a parent, a child or grandchild at the end of the day.

“Everybody in this world is a human being,” Poole said.

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