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Earl Cherry speaks to a crowd of about 70 people who gathered in Lincoln Park June 20. The demonstration was to observe racial injustices across the county and for attendees to gain perspective.

Central DeWitt graduate Olivia Ziegler watched demonstrations for racial equality taking place around the country and believed a similar event could take place in her hometown. 

So, she organized it. With the help of community members, especially Dianne Prichard, a Black Lives Matter demonstration took place in Lincoln Park June 20.

“DeWitt is a predominantly white town, so even though we don’t see much violence toward black people — simply because they don’t make up a large percentage of our community —  doesn’t mean it’s not happening in the world.”

Her goals were to help expose perils suffered by people of color in other areas, educate her neighbors, and respond to the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died while a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck.

“I wanted the people of DeWitt to see that and know that just because it isn’t happening in our community — that we know of —  doesn’t mean it’s not happening in neighboring communities, throughout Iowa, or even to our friends and family members.” 

About 70 people attended the protest in Lincoln Park. Three guest speakers shared their stories — Earl Cherry of Maquoketa, and Ivy Jensen and Roban Worrick, both of DeWitt. 

“White people are responsible for educating other white people on how to treat people of color,” Ziegler said. “Black people don’t exist to teach us how to treat them.” 

The protest attendees shared stories and stood in solidarity as the speakers shared their stories. 

“They all provided some awesome points on how black people are treated in America that the crowd might not have noticed before,” Ziegler said. 

Attendees snacked, drank donated water, and, for 8:46 — the amount of time the police officer kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck —  stood in a circle holding candles. 

“It was so cool seeing people come together … I really just wanted people to drive home the point (that) white privilege does exist,” she said.