Protestors march for equality with police support
By Josh Bootsma
LANSING, Ill. (June 16, 2020) – The voice of Martin Luther King Jr. rang out along Torrence Avenue Saturday as about 40 protestors marched northwards accompanied by a police escort, which blocked traffic on that side of the road. As a speaker blared King’s “I have a dream” speech, protest organizer Kevin Collinz led the crowd down the usually busy thoroughfare with his fist held high.
Collinz, who owns his own bodyguard service, called the demonstration a “Unity Peace March,” and publicized the event on his Facebook page saying, “If you or you know someone that has been a victim of police brutality or any kinda violence no matter your race and want to be heard and see change well this is the right ‘Unity Peace March’ to attend. Stop being silent it’s ok to speak up stop hiding we need to see you!”
Peaceful march on a busy street
The march was set to start at noon, an hour before a larger protest began at TF South. The parking lot of the Walgreens at Ridge and Torrence slowly began to fill with people after noon. Mayor Eidam greeted Collinz as did Village Trustee Maureen Grady-Perovich.
There was initially some confusion about where demonstrators would be walking. Because Torrence is a state highway, permission was required from Illinois State Police to allow protestors to block the northbound side of the road. State Police eventually arrived and soon after the march was underway, with police guarding the front and back of the crowd.
“It’s a different march,” explained Collinz before the full crowd arrived. “Most marches you hear the real loud rants and things like that. But mine, the way I organized it—that’s why I’ve got the speaker here—I’m going to play the Martin Luther King speech out loud as we march. There’s no need for everybody to be hollering because just us in support is going to speak volumes.”
The crowd stepped off at Walgreens and walked north to 176th Street, where everyone knelt for a few minutes while the MLK speech continued. The group then returned back to Walgreens using the sidewalk along Torrence.
Collinz recognizes that he’s in a unique position as a bodyguard protesting police brutality. “I don’t think that all officers are bad,” he said, “not only am I a voice for blacks, I’m a voice for law enforcement because I wear the badge also.”
Collinz is a victim of police brutality himself. According to him, in 2004 in Chicago multiple officers physically beat him, leaving him bleeding. At the hospital afterwards, 16 staples were put in his head and he was told he had broken ribs and a broken jaw, which he still suffers from today.
Meeka Hudson was part of the protest, and marched beside her son DJ and her mom Sherri. When asked why she was protesting she said, “Because black lives matter. There needs to be a change. I brought my son out here so he can experience it firsthand—so he can see that everybody believes in the same cause, and that there needs to be change, and that we can be out here peaceful to help bring awareness to this. It’s been way too long.”
Many of the marchers displayed signs and held their fists in the air while walking. Countless horns sounded in support from the opposite side of Torrence, which was unblocked.
“I’m marching for freedom, justice, and equality,” said Reginald Lofton. He said that the police closing down the street “shows a little respect…everybody’s in this together.”
Present at the protest with a two-man video production crew was Power92 radio personality Seandale, who produces a segment called “Raw TV Radio” on 92.3 FM on Sunday nights. Seandale interviewed Collinz and took videos with protestors. According to Seandale, the footage will appear in some form on his program.
Later on Saturday evening, Collinz posted the following on Facebook: “I’m so emotional right now because within these last two weeks every single day I been organizing this Unity Peace March and it was a huge success and the support I received from citizens, the mayor, my family and friends, the police departments, state of Illinois troopers, sponsors, even passers in they cars and many more is huge. It’s so many people to thank and I’m gonna thank each and every soul who showed up and showed out and we did it together in unity.”
Collinz indicated on Facebook that he may be interested in doing another march in the future.
Peacefully protesting for change (Coverage of the other, larger march in Lansing that took place on the same day)