Thousands gather at ‘Are we Next?’ rally in downtown Peoria

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)–Protests against racial injustice continue across the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, including one Sunday in downtown Peoria.

Thousands gathered in downtown Peoria Sunday for the “Are we Next?” rally, remembering not just George Floyd, but also local victims like Treshaun Shields, who have fallen victim from police brutality.

“We have to start with the violence and injustice that’s happened here so that we can branch out and make those changes in other places,” said organizer, Autumn Cain.

Autumn Cain, organizer of the Are we Next rally says bringing change in Peoria is about being a united front.

“We want to open a dialogue with the community, we want to talk to each other, we want to educate people and we’re trying to just bring each other together,” Cain said.

Sheilds’ family spoke at the Peoria County Courthouse, then the group marched silently to the Gateway Building lead by a drum line.

“It’s been incredibly moving–the stories that have been told and shared, the exercises we’ve gone through. It’s been an incredible thing,” said protester and owner of Eli’s Coffee, Rachel Berchtold.

Rachel Berchtold and her husband Weston, owners of Eli’s Coffee Shop closing up early on Sunday afternoon to join the fight for justice.

“We’re not here to garner support, we’re not here so you can support Eli’s. We’re here to show our support and that is the only thing that we are here for,” said Weston Berchtold.

Both saying they want people to know small towns like Morton, Metamora, and Tremont are hearing the pleas for justice.

“Even though we aren’t terribly diverse in our little communities, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of work to be done.”

Cain saying Sunday’s message is more than a social media trend.

“This is not just a movement, these are our lives we’re fighting for, our people,” Cain said.

Young Revolution of Peoria plans to hold these events until changes are made to how police and the justice system view minorities.

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