STORY BY LAURA KRUG
PHOTOS BY LAURA KRUG AND JUSTIN SABATA
On Sunday afternoon, a large gathering of protestors with signs lined the intersection of Vine and 27th streets in Hays. The demonstration gathered to stand against police brutality in light of George Floyd’s death by a law enforcement officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Monday, May 25.
Anniston Weber, a senior English Major at Fort Hays State University, organized the event on Facebook under the title “A stand against police brutality – George Floyd Vine street Protest.”
“I organized this yesterday, and I honestly did not expect it to get this much traffic,” Weber said.
As of Sunday, the event had around 50 people marked as going and 100 interested in the event.
“I wanted to do this because I’ve seen the protests going on in Wichita, Salina, and Kansas City. Some of them are getting out of hand; I just wanted to come together and be peaceful and respectful. We even have officers helping us,” Weber said.
Two police officers, including Hays Chief of Police Don Scheibler, monitored the event and spoke with protestors. Several counter-protestors voiced their opinions from trucks as they drove back and forth on Vine street, waving American flags. Other cars honked and cheered in support of the demonstration.
Around 120 people of all ages and races gathered for the protest, which began at 2 p.m. on the sidewalk of Vine. To begin the demonstration, participants knelt for nine minutes to pay their respects to Floyd, signifying the time that Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, causing his death.
“It was very spur of the moment, but the turnout has been incredible,” Weber said.
The group, many of whom were wearing masks — some with supportive messages written on them — then proceeded to spread out in the grass in front of Cerv’s to accommodate the growing crowd of protestors. Both sides of Vine street were lined with people holding signs against police brutality, racism, and discrimination.
Fort Hays State University psychology faculty member Dr. Nuchelle Chance, who is also the faculty advisor to the Black Student Union at FHSU, attended the protest with her family.
“This is huge in a town where it feels like you are invisible. We are such a minority that it feels like you don’t really matter, Chance said. “This incredible turnout is so welcoming. To be a part of an actual peaceful protest the way it should be done is a great legacy to leave.”
Chance’s sister, Taissa Mick, was also in attendance.
“I came out because I wanted to support the cause. We had a great turnout and I’m excited to see it,” Mick said.