Hundreds Turn Out For Protests In Rockford And DeKalb

May 31, 2020

There were demonstrations across the nation Saturday, including Rockford and DeKalb, protesting the death of George Floyd and other police killings of African-Americans. 

Protest in downtown Rockford Saturday afternoon
Credit Connie Kuntz / WNIJ

Hundreds gathered in downtown Rockford for a peaceful rally Saturday afternoon. They gathered across the street from Kingdom Authority Chuch, where Mark Anthony Barmore was shot to death by police officers in 2009. Later, the rally moved to the Rockford Police Department's District 1 station, where tensions with police intensified. A window was broken and police in riot gear surrounded the station. There are reports that police fired tear gas into the crowd to break it up at the end of the night.

DeKalb protest
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Rally organizer Vivian Meade
Credit Susan Stephens / WNIJ

In DeKalb, hundreds took part in a Black Lives Matter march and rally that started with protesters kneeling for eight minutes, forty-five seconds in silence and ended three hours later in a prayer at Memorial Park, First St. and Lincoln Hwy. They marched several blocks, chanting "No justice, no peace," "I can't breathe," and "Hands up! Don't shoot!"

Everyone wore face masks, but six -foot distancing was difficult as the large crowd tried to fit into the fairly small streetcorner park. 

Organizer Vivian Meade threw together the event only about 24 hours earlier, using social media to get the word out. She said she was stunned by the number of people who attended, expecting a crowd only a quarter of the size. Saturday's crowd also included people with small children or health issues who circled the area of the protest in their cars, honking horns and displaying signs of support.

There will be another protest in DeKalb Sunday afternoon in front of the police station on Lincoln Highway.