On Wednesday August 1, 2018 Toledo Native and Activist Sir Maejor Page led a protest #ToledoUpAllNight in response to the fatal shooting of Lamar Richardson and unlawful arrests reported against the Toledo Police Department. About 50-60 supporters came together meeting at Swayne Field Plaza before moving to Old Orchard School from which they marched to the primary location, Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz’s home. While Mayor Wade was away answering the public in his forum, Wednesday’s with Wade at the Point Place Library demonstrators shared testimonies about their uncomfortable run-ins with the police including emotional words from the brother of Lamar Richardson. They read off a list of demands drawn up by the Toledo Alliance for Social Justice of laws and policies they would like to see changed which included a more diverse police force with officers only from the Toledo area, funding for the PAL program and a demilitarized police force. The crowd filled the air with call and responses such as “No Justice, No Sleep” and “The People United will never be Defeated” while local neighbors came out to observe and ask questions. In the age of social media and smart phones, run-ins with People of Color and the police have gone viral over and over again.
Movements such as Black Lives Matter, numerous amounts of hash tags, protests, social media pages, activist groups, slogans, and merchandise have changed the face of the civil rights while millennials have adopted the attitude of unapologetically black; but are we moving forwards or backwards? Can we call for justice but condone activities and behaviors that encourage recklessness? Can we find balance and unity in the community? In light of the many shootings not including homicides involving the police, Toledo’s current body count is at 27 as of 7/22/18. Gun violence has not been limited to gang members but has claimed the lives of bystanders, mothers and children as well. With leaders on conflicting ends of the spectrum of what needs to be done to change the dynamic of our relations with the police and each other, many are stepping up in the community to implement programs for children that include city wide art projects, job programs, music, and sports. Even in the #ToledoupallNight protest 8/1/2018 you can see children holding signs and screaming “Black Lives Matter”. So when we look back over the history of civil rights marches, protests, boycotts, and blackouts what works and what doesn’t? One thing that has not changed from Emancipation to now is that People of Color whether you believe that sit-downs and peace treaties are the answer or public demonstrations, marches, protests ( not rioting and looting), and boycotting are the correct response, we have to find common ground. We have a generation of young adults and children who have become infatuated with drug culture, changing their self-image because of social media all while falling victim to gun violence with a distrust for those in authority. The youth must become the priority.