Two events use peace, family, worship to advocate for change

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – The Peoria area saw two social demonstrations taking place Saturday morning. One was a peaceful protest in Peoria Heights and the other was a prayer/worship event at the Peoria County Courthouse.

Tanisha Cayson organized the protest in the Heights, calling it a family-friendly protest against racial injustice.

“I just wanted to put something together where families could come together,” Cayson said.

Cayson said she wanted to organize an event where children could also participate and let their voices be heard while being safely educated on the subject of racism.

“I just thought this might be a way they could get out and kind of get a little bit of an explaination of what’s going on in the world,” Cayson said. “It’s important that they know that they are safe, they are loved, that we care about them and that this is beneficial for them.”

Numerous families of all races came out with their kids, marching from the Peoria Heights Public Library to Tower Park chanting for change and participating in prayer. Peoria Heights mayor Mike Phelan joined the march, saying the peaceful and family-oriented portion aligned with the city’s goals.

“We need change, and the only way that’s going to be accomplished is by good, civil people sitting down and talking about that,” Phelan said.

Over in downtown Peoria, community members congregated at the courthouse, calling on the Lord with hands raised.

“Hands up, it’s an act of surrender towards God,” Rita Jones, event organizer, said. “So it’s not ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ but it’s hand-ups and it’s our worship towards God.”

Jones said with so much discourse going on and conflicting voices being heard, she said it’s time to focus on one particular voice.

“I knew that we needed to access heaven,” Jones said. ” We need to hear what God is saying. What’s the voice of God?”

Dozens came out from all over the community and different churches singing, waving flags, and worshipping. Jones said the event, which was put together in ten days, wasn’t about color because the community is stronger together.

“It’s about what’s right, what’s justice, what’s equality and it’s for us all,” Jones said. “We are better together and we all have something to bring to the table and collaborate together. So it’s a force and it takes all of us.”

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