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Daily Journal
     June 16, 2020      #93-168 KDJ
 

Continuing the conversation: Herscher site of

By Tiffany Blanchette
tblanchette@daily-journal.com


HERSCHER — A 2015 Herscher High School graduate, Skylar Brinkman spoke to a group of about 30 people at the start of a peaceful protest Monday at Village Park in Herscher.

“The situation may not seem real because it maybe doesn’t happen here, but [the protest] brings awareness to it and it is sometimes where the root of the issue can start,” said Brinkman, who is now a resident of Manteno. “I went to school here, I know first hand how it can be and it might be uncomfortable to have these conversations in these towns. But I think it’s really important to anyway because this is where the root of the change can really start.”

With the support of local law enforcement, Brinkman said she organized the gathering on social media in an effort to not leave the small towns of the county, like Herscher, out of the conversation about law enforcement’s treatment of minorities in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

“I hope the people we’ve reached today see that it’s an important issue. It’s just important to care about things that might not affect you, and care about people in general,” Brinkman said. “You don’t always see the issues if you’re removed from the situation, or if it’s something you don’t personally experience. It’s so easy to brush it aside. That’s why I think it’s important to have these conversations here, in small towns like Herscher.

“Hopefully, 50 years from now we won’t be back here again for the same reason.”

Brinkman has participated in protests across the county for the past couple weeks, some rallying more participants than others. She said the just more than 30 people willing to have the conversation today was great to see. Also, she has begun compiling a directory of black-owned businesses through the website The-Black-Pages.com after she was inspired by Chicago resident Keenan Love’s recent 46-mile march to Kankakee and how he brought the community together. The website acts as a resource for those who wish to support black businesses in the community, she said.

She encouraged all attendees to continue showing support at upcoming protests and in other ways when possible.

Kankakee resident Dan Harris, who formerly taught psychology at Herscher via Kankakee Community College, spoke to the group of about 30 protesters at Village Park in Herscher at the conclusion of Monday’s protest.

Well-known for his volunteer and liaison work with Kankakee School District, Harris said he felt compelled to speak and share his perspective. Referencing historical riots that killed hundreds of black people 100 years ago, Harris asked if the protesters felt there has been real change since then.

“Not from my perspective,” he said. “We need to keep going and learn the history.”

Harris said he was happy he decided to attend.

“This is the first time I’ve personally seen a group of only white people come together to support blacks,” said Harris, who is an African American. “I’ll be honest, I was trying not to cry this whole time.”

Harris encouraged all in attendance to show their support at an upcoming protest planned for Saturday, June 20, at 11 a.m. at the Kankakee County Courthouse and also invited them to enjoy the local Juneteenth Celebration set for noon to 9 p.m. June 19 and 20 at Pioneer Park in Kankakee.

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Tiffany Blanchette
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