The passionate crowds gathering in major cities across the U.S., calling for an end to racism and the murder of Black people by police, are so moving. Less visible, but just as important, are the demonstrations taking place in smaller cities, towns, and villages, where people are saying #BlackLivesMatter too.
This is particularly significant in Ohio, home to numerous white supremacist hate groups, as well as the murderers of Tamir Rice and Heather Heyer. In Amherst, a group of armed men showed up to “protect the community,” after a small group of people gathered to protest the murder of George Floyd.
Follow along for highlights from pro-Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the smaller cities, towns, and villages outside of Ohio’s main metropolises. If you have any to add, comment below. And, please donate to these bail funds liberating protestors from unjust incarceration, and support this movement!
In addition to the events below, Columbus Navigator published a great piece with photo and video from Upper Arlington, Delaware, Mount Vernon, and Zanesville.
Alliance was home to a protest organized by Ande Green and Essence Blue. View photos from Amanda McEldowney here.
Amherst will see another protest on June 6, the “Enough is Enough March.”
Athens has held multiple protests, including one organized by Brooklyn Stallworth. She carried a sign that said: “If a mask makes it hard to breathe, imagine being black.” Activists also put up signs around town stating “White supremacy is the real virus.”
In Bay Village, forty showed up on Wednesday, June 3 outside the police station to demand justice and an end to racism. They plan to be back at it again on June 4. The event was organized by the Bay Village Nasty Women Facebook group.
Residents of the Village of Bluffton held a solidarity walk and vigil for George Floyd on June 1, organized by Jill Steinmetz. View photos from Jamie Nygaard here.
Hundreds turned out in Bowling Green Tuesday, June 2, in passionate protest. BG Falcon Media interviewed some of the participants here.
Cambridge had its own rally June 1, attended by a mix of adults and teenagers.
In Chagrin Falls, fifteen year-old Chase Tuller decided to cancel his protest after backlash from businesses and gun owners, who threatened to show up with AR-15 rifles. The businesses were worried about “violence” coming to their picture postcard town. However, 150 people showed up in support of the movement anyway. Chase said: “We may cancel an event. But we can’t cancel a movement. The backlash I experienced in response to a peaceful demonstration exposed the closed-mindedness of the community. It showed me just how much work lies ahead.”
A diverse group showed up for Black lives in Chillicothe at an event organized by Penelope Parsons. Quincy Patterson told a reporter: “I don’t want to be seen as a threat just because of my skin.”
High School students in Cleveland Heights kneeled in support of George Floyd and Black lives before marching to City Hall on June 3. “I went for a jog this morning. Who would have thought I wouldn’t have made it back,” called one of the organizers. “When are we going to change?”
On May 30, River Valley Voices in Action held a protest against police violence outside of East Liverpool City Hall, “In honor of George Floyd and all other innocent black lives taken too soon by means of police brutality.”
People started protesting in Findlay on June 1, meeting in front of the Hancock County Courthouse and marching through the streets with signs. Now, it has turned into a week-long event. See video from WKXA here.
Demonstrators in Fostoria were joined by the Police Chief and members of the force, who knelt and prayed with the crowd.
Downtown Fremont was flooded on June 3 with over 500 supporters, in a vigil co-sponsored by People for Peace & Justice Sandusky County, NAACP-Fremont chapter, CommonUnity, and Justice for Migrant Women. Some held signs in Spanish that read “Tu Lucha / Mi Lucha” (Your Struggle / My Struggle) and “La Unión Hace La Fuerza” (Unity Makes Strength). On Sunday, June 7, the Fremont Community Relations Commission is hosting a community forum “#ICantBreathe: Our Community’s Response,” at 6:30 pm. The event will be shown live on Facebook here.
On June 20, Lysee Fuls, David Ray Upperman and Megan Wolf Baxter are planning a “Babies Against Brutality” gathering at Thomas Cloud Park in Huber Heights. “It’s time to let our kids speak,” they say. “Help us bring our children together to show them a better future is possible. Help us show our brown kids that THEIR LIVES MATTER TOO!” Safety precautions and more info here. Opportunities for kids to address the crowd.
Kent’s demonstration on May 31 was attended by 250 people. Michael Jones told KentWired: “The main thing I saw yesterday that really sparked something in me was the different races that came out to show support. It wasn’t just a black thing, it wasn’t just a white thing. There were so many different races there and just for people to see that, blacks and whites mixed and other people of color, that’s really great for them to come out.”
Hundreds turned out in Lakewood June 2 for a night-time protest walk and rally. View video of the event here.
In Lima, Curtis Shannon organized a protest against murder by police on May 30. “We’re out here standing for George Floyd, Tatiana Brown. We will march to the Lima police station for Tarika Wilson who was killed in her home with her one-month-old son in her hands. This is unacceptable that we have to do this, that we have to stand here and keep antagonizing you for our basic civil rights,” he said.
Later, in an introspective statement, Lima Mayor David Bergen said “As a white man, I cannot presume to know what it is like to walk in the shoes of Black Americans. But I would be no different than those three officers that watched the murder of George Floyd and did nothing if I did not acknowledge the systemic racism and violence that got us here today. We would be inhumane if we ignored that people are living in pain and fear, and that Black Americans want the same thing as every American — to be treated fairly and with dignity, to receive fair and equal treatment under the law, and to live in a society that is equitable, inclusive and just. That is the cry that has been spoken and must now be heard throughout the nation and our community.”
Chayla Weaver organized a well-attended protest in Lorain May 31. View photos and video here. Speaking to the crowd, Weaver said: “This makes me so proud to be from Lorain. We are strong; we are really strong and we’re going to stand up against injustices. We’re going to walk, we’re going to chant and we’re going to be peaceful and we’re going to do it and we’re going to show other cities that we can do it.” Another protest, organized by Veronica Filchuk, took place in South Lorain on June 1.
Marietta has a rally scheduled for June 7 at East Muskingum Park. The event, which will include silence, kneeing, laying down, and perspectives from people of color, is being organized by Hayla Zyla-Dennis. Get all the details here.
Medina County residents with Our Revolution Ohio protested in the town square, connecting police killings of Black Americans to other racial health disparities.
An anti-racism rally was also held in Nelsonville June 2.
In the Newark square, a group danced and chanted that “Black Lives Matter.” Sadly, a group loaded up with assault weapons also made their presence known.
Dozens of people laid on the road in Ottawa Hills, blocking cars and chanting “I can’t breathe,” in two different locations.
About 150 people came out in Painesville June 1.
On May 31, Parkersburg showed up to march against racism.
Hundreds also turned out in Perrysburg June 3; watch video of the action here.
Ravenna’s demonstration took place on June 1, with leadership from the Portage County NAACP.
“All lives can’t matter until black lives matter,” said Ramyah Oba-Thomas, who helped organize a rally attended by 1,500 people in Sandusky on June 1. “We all bleed the same blood. We are all the same people. Therefore all of our lives matter, but black lives need to be protected. We need to know that we matter, too.”
Strongsville had a small group of protestors gathered at the corner of Route 82 and Pearl Road.
Sylvania protestors knelt for almost nine minutes in silent remembrance of the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “The event was intended to bring together families, including young children, to have a conversation about racism in America and the way it affects children of color,” said ABC13. Photos and video from protests throughout northwest Ohio are available here.
Protests organized by young people in Wadsworth will continue “as long as people want to keep coming out with signs and support,” said Shamya Thomkin. According to the Wadsworth Bruin, “The protest was met with mostly positive reception from citizens of Wadsworth, with people honking to show support and commenting positively on the way things were executed. However, there were a few points during the protest where passersby shouted expletives, and, at one point, a male left his vehicle and shouted racial slurs.” Said Thomkin: “we need to brush off the negative comments and continue doing what we’re doing.”
In Warren, more than 1,000 people showed up for a rally organized by Ty Powell, a twenty year-old. Many stayed on for a second event, hosted by Quintin Burney, a graduate of John F. Kennedy High School, and others.
Multiple pro-Black Lives Matter events popped up in Wooster, including a candlelight vigil hosted by the Wooster-Orrville NAACP and this protest organized by Paton Simmons, Megan Carillon, and Miranda Conaway. Wooster resident Alptekin Aydogan says protests will continue daily from 12–1pm.