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Stand Up peaceful protest sees large turnout

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Managing Editor

People from many different backgrounds attended the Chilton County Stand Up protest on June 6.

The early afternoon march started in the Park Plaza parking lot.

Although rumors and apprehension had swarmed around the event on social media and conversations around town, the event, organized primarily by Kandace Pierce Rush and Tracy Frazier, remained peaceful.

“Today, I have such a mix of emotions,” Rush wrote on Facebook the day after the event. “I’m so proud of how yesterday turned out. God put exactly who was needed in my path to make our protest successful. On the other hand, looking back over this past week, I’m hurt because of how our community responded … So many ugly, negative posts, comments, and talk around town.”

Frazier said she is a business owner in Chilton County who wants to see the community grow “and it really hurt my feelings” when there were statements made about protesters potentially damaging property.

“I want to see everyone succeed,” Frazier said. “…. That’s what hurt me to see all of the businesses shut down.”

Clanton Police Department was on the scene to block traffic as the group walked up the street.

“It was great participation,” Larry Sailes, who served as an advisor for the event, said. “I was actually overwhelmed. We probably had 250-plus people that came to the event. The greatest thing is there was a mixed pot of people.”

Sailes and Frazier said those who participated were from a variety of ethnicities, colors, ages and backgrounds.

“It was more (people) than I had expected,” Frazier said. “I never dreamed so many white people would turn out.”

Sailes said highlights that the event was about the “human race fighting” injustice, not just one group of people.

Sailes gave organizers tips on how to keep the event in line with the goal of a peaceful event.

“Making sure that those who supported it had the right intentions in supporting it,” Sailes said.

He said there were many on the sidelines. Some held signs in support. Others seemed to be watching for other reasons.

“I participated because I wanted to stand with my Chilton County brothers and sisters of different races to join the millions of people around the world who are peacefully demonstrating the urgency of addressing racial injustices,” Elizabeth L. Huntley said. “I was proud of how my community showed the world how to peacefully allow their voices to be heard.”

Frazier and Sailes said the protest was for the community, unity and growth.

“This fight is about making sure that everyone has the same opportunities presented to them, and if they don’t know how to get to those opportunities, we show them how to get there,” Sailes said.

Sailes wanted to participate for a number of reasons after Rush contacted him.

“I wanted to get involved, not only because of the things we are seeing right now with police brutality and systematic racism. Systematic racism does not only apply from the white to the black community, but it as well applies to the black community,” Sailes said. “We wanted to be a voice for those that have no voice within the community.”

He referred to the event as “only the beginning to attract attention of those that can make decisions concerning the community.”

Frazier said voting for leaders that will be for addressing injustice is important.

“Voting is the key,” Frazier said.

Frazier said part of why she participated was people who had come to her in the past asking advice when they “feel like they have been mistreated here and this happened with the police what do they need to do.”

“Sometimes you have to have tragedy for people’s eyes to be opened to see what is really going on,” Frazier said. “And, we decided to protest against inequality here.”

She said the group wants to see more training for police officers, more diversity in those hired by local law enforcement and an end to abuse of power.

The protest leaders are planning to develop ways to follow up to the awareness march with action steps to help people make needed changes.

“We have to do more than just say ‘Black Lives Matter,’” Sailes said. “We have to do more than just call out the names of those that have been slain. We have to more than just march. We have to show them that there are opportunities … we have to do is show, not just black individuals, but anyone who feels that have been disenfranchised. We have to show them how to be able to use those opportunities that have been presented to them.”

Frazier said those walking in the event have created a bond, and she hopes to have a get together for everyone in the future, so they can get to know one another better and share concerns, “hopes and dreams.”

“For the rest of our life, we are a family,” Frazier said.