Anti-Racist Action holds annual protest

Brian Wroten

Residents and students marched in the rain against police brutality Friday evening in affiliation with Kent Anti-Racist Action.

Credit: Steve Schirra

The rain made it hard for those gathered at the corner of South Lincoln Avenue and West Main Street to light their cigarettes.

It also made it hard for them to have a protest.

Despite the weather, a group of 14 Kent Anti-Racist Action members marched down West Main Street Friday night to protest police brutality.

The marchers, later joined by four more, listened to speakers at the Home Savings Plaza.

Matt Greenfield, junior applied conflict management major, said the group met Friday because the National Day Against Police Brutality was Saturday, and members wanted to show solidarity with a march in Cleveland.

He said this was also the 10-year anniversary of the first Kent Anti-Racist Action march in Kent.

Senior psychology major Jessica Stewart said she wanted to march because of problems within the justice system.

“We place our trust in the police, the community places its trust to keep them safe,” she said. “So many times they abuse that trust and power – it’s just not right.”

They marched down the relatively empty West Main Street to downtown chanting “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” Several cars passing by in the street drowned out the group’s yelling.

No comment from the police about the protest was available over the weekend.

Once at the Home Savings Plaza, the group listened to speakers. Greenfield praised the efforts of Kent Anti-Racist Action’s Copwatch project for few instances of police overstepping its bounds, which has group members listen for police activity over scanners and monitor their activity with cameras. He said the group modeled this after the Black Panther’s version, with one key difference.

“They had guns; we have cameras,” he said.

Maria Jenkins, senior fine arts major, talked about her experience in Toledo with the neo-Nazi party march turned riot. She said the police were protecting the neo-Nazis and then turned on the community.

She said she overheard a mother with two children say, “I hope the next time we call 911, they get here as fast.”

Abdul Qahhar, a former Black Panther, told the marchers not to be discouraged by small numbers because truth multiplies. To explain, he used an olive tree as an analogy.

“The olive tree takes years to grow,” he said. “You might not eat from it, but your generations will eat from it.”

Contact religion and minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].