PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – According to protesters, Saturday, the status quo has to go.
Hundreds gathered at Peoria’s Riverfront area and marched in unison, protesting the aggressive treatment minorities face at the hands of law enforcement.
There were people of different ages and ethnicities chanting and picketing while police monitored to keep the event from escalating.
The peaceful protest started at the Gateway Building, making a stop at the Peoria Police Department before ending at the Peoria County Courthouse.
“We have been comfortable with the status quo,” city activists yelled.
Among the echoed chants for justice, those marching were also calling for changes in city leadership.
“We need new mayors, we need new representation, we need new city council,” a protester said.
The call for new leaders and adjustments to the law enforcement system in Peoria is a message community members shouted from bullhorns and from moving cars as they blocked the downtown streets.
Otto, and activist with the We Matter March, said the first act of change needs to happen within police departments.
“Excessive, for example, an eight-minute kneel on the neck of an already compliant man is a violation of our constitutional rights,” Otto said.
She said adequate training for law enforcement is not only needed, but it could be the difference between a life or death situation.
“Police need to learn to talk to suspects in an understanding and compassionate way,” Otto said. “Teaching officers to use their voice, before taking drastic action will save lives.”
Protesters said the march on Saturday was about more than George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. They said it’s merely time for the world to recognize the lives of minorities aren’t expendable.