Hundreds of Airdrie residents converged at Nose Creek Regional Park June 3 for a peaceful protest in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The protest – which was organized by a group of local high schoolers – came as others took place throughout the United States and around the world in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minn. Floyd's videotaped death led to wide-spread protests and riots throughout the U.S. in the preceeding two weeks.
Here’s Airdrie’s BLM peaceful protest at Nose Creek Park. Probably a few hundred people here. Chants are “No justice, no peace” and “Black lives are necessary.” #Peacefulprotest pic.twitter.com/sTA94LLMOX— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) June 3, 2020
Locally, hundreds of protesters of diverse ethnicities and ages – many wearing masks as a precaution against COVID-19 – hoisted signs with messages against systemic racism and police brutality. Chants of "Say their names" and "Black lives are necessary" resounded through the park.
A handful of police monitored the demonstration, but protestors remained peaceful and did not clash with the RCMP.
Some protestors addressed the crowd using a megaphone. Anthony Eshiemomoh, 20, spoke about his experiences enduring racism after immigrating to Alberta from Nigeria with his family in 2007.
“I remember the first bully I had," he said. “It was not even my first year in Canada – I wasn’t a full year in. I didn’t know what racism was. I didn’t feel different. I remember practicing in the mirror, as an eight-year-old, how I was going to stand up to this guy. I remember playing my words over and over again [in my head] so I wouldn’t look weak."
Eshiemomoh also spoke about an incident where a racial slur was directed at him by a parent during a hockey game in Edmonton – a memory he said still stings.
“I was 12 years old, and I had just been ejected out of a hockey game – a sport I joined to feel like I fit in," he said. “I was skating off the ice, and one of the parents – whoever was in the crowd – yelled out profanity. They yelled, ‘Get that n-word off the ice.’ Those people probably don’t remember me. I probably had no impact on their lives. But they had huge impacts on mine – and that’s why we’re here today."
Some edited video from yesterday's protest: pic.twitter.com/w3Bsa4THcp— Scott Strasser (@scottstrasser19) June 4, 2020
Following Eshiemomoh, resident Mandi Carter stressed the importance of teaching youth about white privilege.
“We need to abolish that white privilege and it starts by teaching our children," she said. “When they see racism on the playground, you teach them to stand up for that person. By watching, silence is violence."
Attendee Chloé Sowers-Plourde, a George McDougall High School student, said she was impressed by the turnout at the protest
“Hearing everyone speak was so inspiring," she said. “I’m glad I got to experience seeing so many other Airdrie residents that feel the same way as I do about everything happening in the world."
Eshiemomoh also said the turnout was meaningful. Having lived in Airdrie since 2011, he said he considers the city his home.
“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions this past week, and I’m thankful to see everyone out here," he said “It’s a perfect depiction that, when people come together, this is what can happen. I’m very proud to see my community out here – it means so much.
“Change is coming. I can promise you that. No one else is going to stop until we can make some changes."