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Protesters march up Court Street in Athens, Ohio, as part of the Black Lives Matter movement on August 30, 2020.

Athens rallies to end racist practices, support Black lives

Correction appended.

Editor's Note: The story has omitted the name of a co-organizer of the Your Move protest. Multiple allegations of sexual misconduct against that person were brought to The Post’s attention and these actions do not align with our publication's ethics. 

Protestors of all ages lined up in front of the Athens Armory on Sunday to demand those in power make changes to eliminate systemic racism from university and city practices. 

“It’s their time to match our effort, do what they’re supposed to do,” Keshawn Mellon, a senior studying acting, said. “We’ve made our demands, we’ve communicated what we needed, and all that stuff, and they haven’t been doing it, so it’s about time that they step up.”

The protest was one of many that popped up following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot in the back seven times by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leaving him paralyzed.

The protest, co-organized by Mellon, began at 4 p.m. in front of the Athens Armory. Both residents and students gathered, holding signs that read “Black Lives Matter” and “Silence equals violence.” Many members of the protest wore masks. 

“We’re here to be united and hold people accountable,” Mellon said.

As cars passed by, some honked in approval while raising their fist in the air in solidarity, and some revved their engines while showing their middle fingers to the protestors.

Athens residents Kathy Berry and Judy Smucker stood outside the armory with the other protestors with their own signs in support of Black Lives Matter. 

“We’ve got to speak up. White people have to speak up,” Smucker said. 

Both Berry and Smucker have a history of demanding change in Athens. 

“We know how important this is … we just have to show up,” Berry said. “We come from protest days from the 60s, so, hey, this is familiar territory.”

Protesters marched from Court Street to College Street back to Court Street. As the march ensued, protesters chanted “hands up, don’t shoot,” “no justice, no peace,” and “who do you protect, who do you serve,” without any issues of traffic interference. 

The march stopped at the Athens County Courthouse, located at 15 S. Court St., for chants and speeches given by Mellon and others.

Mellon’s speech included points about continuing to ask for change for Black people in order to end racism. Mellon read aloud statistics and facts from a flyer about Ethan Doerr, an Athens Police Department officer who has been accused and sued for use of excessive force in the past. 

Matthew deTar, communication studies professor, and his family watched the speeches from across the street.

“I would hope that OU is listening to what they’re saying right now, that diversity is not just a marketing strategy for OU, but something real that changes how people act,” deTar said.

deTar’s son, Charlie, said he came to the protest because, “I don’t want people to shoot Black people anymore.”

Organizers currently do not have any future protests planned. 

“The issues that are here aren’t unique to just OU and Athens,” Mellon said. “It’s important to realize that the protests are happening around the country because it’s important across the entire country. It’s an entire country issue, so it’s important that it’s not specified that it’s just OU, it’s everywhere.”


Correction appended: A previous version of this article stated Jacob Blake was killed by police, but that is false. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information.

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