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| 2 min | by Ana Hotaling, Photos by Jae Hotaling of Forest’s Edge Photography |

“My skin gives me privilege I didn’t earn. Your skin gives you hate you don’t deserve.”

“This is not about one man. This is about structural racism in a country built on black slavery.”

These powerful messages were just two of many printed on signs held by demonstrators at the Black Lives Matter rally staged at Chelsea’s Pierce Park last Thursday, June 4. Approximately 300 participants, ranging from young teen to senior citizen, sat in family groups or individually to protest police brutality and the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes.

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The rally, organized by Joanne Ladio of One World One Family, is one of thousands of protests being held across the country and the world as Floyd’s death draws the world’s attention to systemic racism and the socioeconomic disparity between whites and people of color. The Chelsea rally featured speakers such as the Reverend Eric Stricklin from St. Paul United Church of Christ, City of Chelsea Councilwoman Jane Pacheco, Chelsea Human Rights Commission Chairperson Susan Morrel-Samuels, author Jeni McFarland, downtown protest organizer Rose Sanville, and Ladio herself, who encouraged attendees, “Let’s do something!”   One of the gathering’s most memorable moments was a moment of silence, during which demonstrators bowed their heads and kept quiet for approximately four and a half minutes, roughly half the length of time Officer Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. The protest was immediately followed by an impromptu march down Main Street, with demonstrators shouting, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” as drivers waved and honked their support.

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