Hundreds of people marched down Highway 96 on Saturday, June 13, to protest the recent killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and to call for an end to racism and police brutality.
The event, called “Awaken the Suburbs,” was organized by local youth, many of them either current students or recent graduates of Mounds View Public Schools.
“As the young people of this community, we are obligated to speak up and be active in the Black Lives Matter movement,” an email from the organizers said. “In light of racial injustice across the nation, we desire to take reasonable and tangible action at the local level to ensure that such a tragedy will never occur in our community.”
The protest, which drew a crowd whose size rivaled recent protests in Minneapolis and St. Paul, remained peaceful. Protestors gathered outside of Shoreview City Hall, where organizers collected food and supply donations for St. Paul's Midway neighborhood and North Minneapolis, which were both significantly impacted. Others helped attendees register to vote, shared anti-racist educational resources, or handed out masks to minimize the spread of COVID-19.
Marchers then headed down Highway 96 to Arden Hills City Hall, where Black youth shared speeches, poetry and song.
Bri Sislo-Schutta, a 2018 MVHS graduate and current student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, called racism “a public health crisis in Minnesota.”
“In the suburbs, it is easy to distance yourself from injustice, but do not be mistaken. It is no accident that our communities are predominately white. It is the result of redlining, blockbusting and segregationist housing policies,” Sislo-Schutta said.
Sislo-Schutta urged attendees to commit themselves to anti-racist work.
“It is time to stop being complicit. It is time to stop being complacent, and it is time to start demanding change. It is time for white Minnesota to finally add its voice to the chorus of communities who have been fighting for justice for years,” she said. “If you are here today, your ignorance must end today, and you must remove the knees from our necks … I ask you, what are you going to do with your breath?”