Crowd gathers in Breckenridge to peacefully protest racial injustice |

Crowd gathers in Breckenridge to peacefully protest racial injustice

BRECKENRIDGE — Summit County residents and others dressed in black and carried signs while marching through Breckenridge on Monday morning to shine a light on ongoing racial injustices and police brutality throughout the country.

The protest came together quickly with a call to action going out on the One Man’s Junk Summit County Facebook page Sunday afternoon. Community members answered the call and arrived to stand in solidarity with black Americans around the United States.

“I think this was needed,” said Tom Nielson, a Breckenridge resident who organized the protest alongside Evin Harris. “This is happening everywhere around the country, and I don’t think Summit County should be left to the side, especially being a dominantly white community. We do have some diversity here, and that showed today. But we need to make this community aware that these things are real even in our community. …

“This is for everyone to break the silence. As we saw here today, a lot of people got on the table and expressed their concerns and the things they’ve lived in discrimination and racism. We have to give the people who need a voice a chance to express themselves.”

The march ended near the Riverwalk Center, where the crowd gathered in a peaceful protest.

Protesters took turns standing on a table in front of the crowd and sharing their own experiences with racial injustice, their frustrations with acts of police violence like the recent killing of George Floyd, their concerns with local issues like a man wearing a KKK mask into the Dillon City Market and more.

Many in the crowd emphasized that the protest was necessary not only to give Summit County a voice in the greater national conversation happening around racism and police brutality, but also as an educational opportunity to make sure community members can better understand the hardships facing many in America and around the world.

“We’re here because of the injustices that are happening to my brothers and sisters and to everyone else who faces injustice in this world,” Breckenridge resident Isaiah Mcgill said. “Without that information about the truths of this world, how are we going to educate ourselves? How are people going to know, without protests and seeing that there is injustice, that this shit needs to be stopped?”

Others said they came out in hopes of amplifying minority voices in the community and to urge others to do the same.

“’I’m not racist’ isn’t enough,” Dillon resident Adrienne Anghelone said. “It’s really important for people to acknowledge that racism still exists, to take a look at themselves and be self-reflective, and acknowledge that they may have biases they’re not aware of so that we can start having those uncomfortable and hard conversations about racism of all types.”

Several representatives with the Breckenridge Police Department stood among the protesters during the event. Police Chief Jim Baird said he was thrilled with the turnout and the ability of his officers to work in cooperation with the protesters to make sure their voices were heard.

“I think it just speaks to the fantastic relationship that not just our agency, but that law enforcement in general in Summit County, enjoys with our community,” Baird said. “They’re highly supportive, and a lot of the agencies have citizen advisory committees to help citizens stay engaged. We’re blessed to have such a positive relationship with the community, and if there are issues, that we can use that relationship to delve into it and come out with a mutual understanding.”

The organizers said the protest was a step in the right direction for the community but that more can be done to spread awareness and inclusiveness in Summit County.

“This is an outdoor community, and a big thing you can do right now on social media is just diversifying your feed to see more people and accounts that you can learn from,” Harris said. “When people say outdoor activities are very white sports, that’s true sometimes because of access and money and privilege. …

“But there are so many groups, people out there that say, ‘We’re doing these things, too, but you don’t pay attention to us.’ We can amplify that and share black stories.”

The organizers also said that they would be turning the original Facebook event into a full-time page where community members could share their stories with one another. They also said more events could be coming in the future.

“We’re not going to stop here,” Nielson said. “We want to keep it going. There’s momentum right now in this country, and we’re going to be here in 10 years doing the same thing if we don’t do something about it right now.”

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