Patriots Park march Halsted panorama-2
Local News

Community responds to racial injustice: A timeline

Patriots Park march Halsted panorama-2
Demonstrators block Halsted Street as they move north during a march on June 7 that began at Patriot’s Park in Homewood.
(Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

On May 25, George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, died while in police custody in Minneapolis after a white officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the street with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. 

The incident was caught on video, and the recordings quickly went viral on social media. 

After Floyd’s death, protests against police violence erupted, but unlike previous cases, the protests spread not only to other cities but to communities of all sizes throughout the country and the world, attracting participation from a broad cross-section of society.

In the racially diverse Homewood-Flossmoor area, there were a number of protest events, all organized by local young people. Here is a timeline of the events that have taken place prior to the Chronicle’s print deadline.

Irwin Park, May 30
A small group of about half a dozen young people carrying Black Lives Matter signs marched along Ridge Road at Irwin Park in Homewood. Chronicle reporter Carole Sharwarko snapped a photo of the group and posted it to the newspaper’s Facebook page, where it was viewed by nearly 20,000 people over the next several days.

Irwin Park, May 31
A group of 25 to 30 people of various races gathered at Irwin Park in Homewood. The event was mostly quiet, with participants holding signs with messages of “Black Lives Matter,” “Justice,” “We Come in Peace” and “Justice 4 George Floyd.” 

In consideration of COVID-19 physical distancing requirements, participants wore face coverings and stood at least 6 feet apart most of the time.

The event was organized on local social media pages by a small group of Homewood residents led by Gene Ellis. 

Flossmoor officials issue statement, May 31
Flossmoor Mayor Paul Braun and Police Chief Tod Kamleiter issued a statement condemning the killing of George Floyd and expressing support for residents protesting violence against people of color.

“We know that Flossmoor is not immune to acts of hate. We hear and see the outcry, and support the peaceful demonstrations that have occurred,” Kamleiter wrote.

Limited curfew, May 31-June 3
On Sunday, violence and looting erupted in and around Chicago protests, and some looting spread to the South Suburbs, including incidents in Country Club Hills, Orland Park, Calumet City and Lansing. 

Flossmoor officials did not issue a curfew, but some businesses closed and village officials urged residents to stay home if possible as a precaution.

Homewood officials issued a business-only curfew for the whole village on Sunday, May 31. That was amended to affect only the Halsted Street business corridor from Monday through Wednesday, June 1, 2 and 3. 

Irwin Park, June 2
Gene Ellis organized a second protest event, a march that started at Irwin Park in Homewood and wound through Homewood and Flossmoor neighborhoods for more than five miles. It appeared to be the largest gathering to date.

Unity Bridge, June 5
Four elected leaders, all African American, all women, all mothers, called a news conference at Unity Bridge in Matteson to discuss their reactions to George Floyd’s murder and the fight for social justice. 

Cook County 6th District Commissioner Donna Miller, Matteson Village President Sheila Chalmers-Currin, 38th District Illinois Rep. Debbie Myers-Martin and 2nd Congressional District U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly said their perspective as black mothers would inform a collaboration as elected leaders on reform efforts across four levels of government.

HPD, June 5
A post on a local social media group that a person of color had been stopped by Homewood police while jogging prompted a number of people to post similar stories of times they felt they were subject to racial profiling. 

The discussion led to a call for protest at Homewood Police headquarters. About 100 protesters gathered on both sides of Dixie Highway to call for police reforms. 

Homewood officials said police were investigating the allegation of profiling, but had not received enough information from the person who posted the original comment.

Millennium Park, June 6
Lauren Parker, a 2018 Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate, organized a rally and march in Millennium Park in Homewood. About 75 people sat on the lawn north of the playground while five speakers shared their thoughts about the death of George Floyd, about continuing police violence toward people of color and about how society can address the issue. 

Parker and 2020 H-F graduate Jazz Jabulani led the group on a march around Millennium Park.

Patriots Park, June 7
Organizers Tiki Brown, Asante Hays, Monique Austin and Ron Simon brought several hundred people together at Patriots Park in Homewood for opening remarks, and then led a march that filled busy Homewood streets along a 4.2-mile loop.

The march traveled from the park east on 187th Street to Halsted Street, north to 183rd Street, west to Dixie Highway, south to 187th Street and east back to the park. 

Marchers filled all four lanes of Halsted and 183rd. Homewood police and public works crews ran interference for the march to maintain safety. 

Along 183rd Street, residents came out to cheer the marchers. Some provided water. Some posted Black Lives Matter signs of their own.

Homewood trustees comment, June 9
At the board meeting June 9, Homewood trustees individually commented about the recent demonstrations, praising both protesters and police for keeping the events peaceful. 

Trustee Larry Burnson was a police officer for 42 years, including as Homewood police chief. 

“I was sickened when I first saw the tape, up in Minneapolis, of the murder of George Floyd,” Burnson said. “I’m so impressed with our community and how well they responded. It’s just another example of what a great community it is.” 

Irwin Park, June 13
Under the name Youth Against Inequality, nearly 20 older teens staged a low key vigil on the plaza at Irwin Park. One organizer, Mikyla Maxon, said the event aimed to honor those who lost their lives to police violence.  

“When a police officer dies, you see the other officers come together to have a vigil, but people who die by the police don’t get that opportunity,” Maxon said.

Those attending the vigil said they feel protests are working to raise awareness and move toward change. Alexis Daniels said she prays for consistent forward momentum. She brought two of her five sons to the vigil.

“I told them, ‘Twenty years from now you’ll be able to tell your kids you were part of history,’” Daniels said.

Patriots Park, June 18
A Night for Our Fallen was a vigil in remembrance of victims of racial violence. It was organized by Lawrencia Palmer, Dominique Gibbs, Kaila Chambliss, Brianna Hull and Brittany Hull.

In addition to speeches, it included a spoken word performance and a routine by a group of steppers. 

In her remarks, Brittany Hull cited June 19, 1865, known as Juneteenth, as a key moment in the emancipation of slaves.

“Today as we gather, I ask you to remember our ancestors. Remember what they fought for,” she said. “This fight has continued for centuries after centuries of injustice toward African Americans in the United States of America.”

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