Stevens Point (OnFocus) – Nationwide, protest events have been taking place in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man killed in Minneapolis after a white officer with Minneapolis Police Department pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he was handcuffed on the ground. Locally, protests have been organized in Stevens Point, Wisconsin Rapids, and Marshfield.
Stevens Point resident Gretchen Mattner, who attended a protest event in Stevens Point earlier this week along with about 200 other people, shared her experiences with OnFocus.
The group first gathered on The Square downtown, then marched to the Portage County Sheriff’s Office.
“Names of black people killed by police were read, then we marched back to The Square,” said Mattner. “The organizer, Keaira Stine, invited anyone who wanted to speak to come forward and address the crowd. Some people told personal stories of how they had been mistreated or discriminated against because of their race, others spoke in support of ending racism, and others encouraged people to get involved in various ways.”
Next, the group marched from The Square to Division Street and north to the roundabout and back, blocking traffic on Division for a short time.
“The majority of the people in attendance were white, but other people there identified themselves as black, Hmong, Latina, and Native American. It was a diverse group of people,” said Mattner, adding that she was surprised that so many people attended.
“I have to believe it was quickly organized without much time to spread the word about it, so the fact that so many people were there was a happy surprise,” she said. “It made me think that ending systemic racism and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is important to people in this community.”
She added that the protest was peaceful. Police were present and traveled alongside the protest group with their lights on, seemingly to alert drivers of their presence in the roadway.
Mattner’s two daughters have also been participating in protests in their respective cities of Minneapolis and Los Angeles.
“One lives in Minneapolis and has been distributing signs, donating food, and protesting there. The other lives in California and is currently protesting in Los Angeles. I believe protesting in those cities can be quite dangerous and I worry about them,” she said. “I believe I was much safer attending the protest here in Stevens Point, but I am proud of them for raising their voices in support of their black brothers and sisters in their own communities. I just hope they are safe.”
“For me, at a time like this, I felt the need to do ‘something’ and this gave me a way to participate and show my support,” she added. “I suppose my girls feel the same way.”