Several hundred people gathered at Fountain Square at 5:30 p.m. on July 9 for a youth led protest called “Evanston Against Police Brutality.” Organized by Camille Allen and Spencer Nabors and publicized largely through Facebook and word of mouth, the event was a response to the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the racialized violence that continues to plague the country, especially against black people. 

Spencer emphasized the importance of saying the victims’ names: “They don’t want us to say their names, because to say their names is to make them human. And to much of America, we are less than human.” 

Her father, Reverend Dr. Michael C.R. Nabors, pastor at Second Baptist Church, offered brief remarks. Noah Pearson, a recent ETHS graduate, read a statement on behalf of ETHS history teacher Corey Winchester, who serves as faculty sponsor for SOAR (Students Organized Against Racism). Members of SOAR provided a strong presence at the protest.

Additional readings included a poem written and recited by Nia Williams and an offering from a Facebook post by Bernard Little, called “If I Am Next.”

ETHS Junior Briyana Jackson was one of many who attended the protest wearing all black in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “People who are older than us usually do most of the talking. Pictures posted [on Facebook] of us at the rally will inspire youth to get involved, and have a say in what’s going on and not just be bystanders,” she said.

The event concluded with organizers asking attendees to recite a Mayan poem called “In Lak’ech” in Spanish and English that SOAR participants at ETHS recite after challenging conversations:

“You are my other me.

If I do harm to you

I do harm to myself. 

If I love and respect you

I love and respect myself.”

Heidi Randhava is an award winning reporter who has a deep commitment to community engagement and service. She has written for the Evanston RoundTable since 2016.