Cameron Sanchez, CJ Wilson, and Jawaan Dorch are Lansing residents who care about their community. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma) May 31–June 6 in Lansing, Illinois
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (June 6, 2020) – As quarantine restrictions began to ease and businesses began to reopen—with modifications—Sunday morning felt like a new beginning. But the mood shifted later in the day, and the rest of the week found people in Lansing and across the country sorting out a tangle of feelings. The conversation is by no means over, but the photos below capture some of the voices in Lansing and the perspective they tried to share throughout the week.
Village Hall served as a communication hub for much of Sunday, and Village trucks blocked the entrance to prevent possible access by reported vandals. The Village’s CodeRED alert system sent messages throughout the day in an effort to provide information without causing alarm. Read “ Lansing businesses, police respond to vandals entering from neighboring towns” for more details. (Photo: Ashlee De Wit)
As word of rioting and looting spread, Lansing business owners rushed to protect their stores. A van parked in front of La Rosita (3315 Ridge Road) Sunday night helped deter unwanted entry. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)
Some relied on prayers and words to protect their establishments, as evidenced by this sign hastily taped to the front door of Tiny’s Flowers (8055 Torrence Avenue). (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Monday morning, the barricades were still in place at businesses along Torrence and Ridge. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The manager of the Walgreens at Torrence and Ridge said he did not suffer much loss because the thieves focused on the pharmacy. More details are included in “ Walgreens manager says only pharmacy was targeted.” (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Local pastors and church members raised their voices in prayer on Monday afternoon. (Click image to read the full story.) (Photo: Ashlee De Wit)
On Monday evening, District 215 held a virtual meeting specifically for young black men, giving them a forum for voicing their frustrations. Alderman DeAndre Tillman was part of that meeting, and he noted the pain of local black youth who are unfairly judged for the actions of outsiders who swept in, hurt our businesses, and left. To help illustrate the difference, Tillman posted photos on his Facebook page of local youth channeling their anger into clean-up and restoration. (See “ District 215 creates space for young Black men to talk.” (Photo provided)
Other residents—including Emily Hemming (left), and Max, Jennifer, and Maddie Sombong—expressed themselves with signs and posters. The brief story and photos published as “ Photos: Black Lives Matter in Lansing” generated 22 comments from other voices. (Photo: Ashlee De Wit)
The Thomas Family of Lansing and the Stone Family of Park Forest spent more than one afternoon at 178th Street and Burnham Avenue displaying signs with messages regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. They also spent time in prayer and invited other voices to pray with them. See “ Peace, prayer, and protest in Lansing.” (Photo: Rebecca Meloy)
Tuesday night’s Board meeting gave Village officials and department heads an opportunity to speak to Sunday’s events. Police Chief Dennis Murrin’s summary is provided here. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
TF South graduates Jawaan Dorch, Cameron Sanchez, and Chawn “CJ” Wilson had a vision for a peaceful demonstration in the town they love. On Wednesday and Thursday they voiced that vision to Lansing police, who helped them bring it to reality. The police expressed their concerns about the protesters’ safety, because of outside groups who target protests and turn them into riots. Working together, the students and LPD scheduled the peaceful protest for Friday afternoon at Lan-Oak Park.
Friday morning, Mayor Patty Eidam (center) and her husband Bud personally visited residents who live along Lan-Oak Park to make them aware of the planned peaceful protest scheduled for that afternoon. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
This neighbor voiced his support for people’s right to express themselves—and his appreciation for the heads-up about the protest. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Valerie Kirkpatrick (right) and Tyra Carter allowed their kids to attend Friday’s protest only after they learned how well planned it was. “That makes you feel safe as a parent,” said Kirkpatrick. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Organizer CJ Wilson (center) wrote three poems to express his complex feelings about George Floyd, riots, and police. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The organizers invited other voices to address the crowd. Kevin Collinz accepted the offer and shared his memories of being a victim of police brutality. The memories brought him to tears, but he expressed thanks to the Lansing police for all they do to keep the community safe. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
During a march around the park, the approximately 200 protesters vocalized some of the cries of the victims of police brutality, such as “I can’t breathe” and “Don’t shoot.” They received honks of support from drivers around the park. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Following the march, all voices were silenced for 8 minutes and 46 seconds—the amount of time Officer Derek Chauvin held his knee on George Floyd’s neck during the May 25 incident that led to Floyd’s death. Some of the Lansing protesters simply knelt for that time, while others simulated Floyd’s position in order to get a better sense of his vulnerability. The nearly nine minutes of silence felt interminably long and ended with a prayer of reconciliation. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
A dedicated article about Friday’s peaceful protest is forthcoming, but the photos above capture a glimpse of the range of voices speaking out throughout the week. In addition, on Saturday, June 6, elected officials representing Lansing at a variety of levels of government held a “Day of Action” in Calumet City, where they expressed outrage, frustration, and commitment to policy change as well as financial investment in the south suburbs. A summary of those comments is also forthcoming.