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Mount Pleasant Community members march in solidarity

Central Michigan University students, faculty and community members marched from the Bovee University Center on June 1.

Central Michigan University students, faculty and community members marched peacefully in solidarity with people across the nation in support of Black Lives Matter.

Two marches, both organized by CMU students, were held in Mount Pleasant following the death of George Floyd and many others from police brutality.

"The reason why we are out here today is obviously (because) lots of injustices (are) happening in this country currently," said Mount Pleasant senior Steven Green, who coordinated one of the marches. "They've been happening for a longtime and it's time that we speak up and speak out to try to make a change."

On May 31, a group marched from the corner of Bluegrass Road and Mission Street to Downtown Mount Pleasant chanting "No justice, no peace." The following day, June 1, crowd gathered in front of the CMU Bovee University Center and marched to the Isabella County Sheriff's Department.

Community members lay on the ground with their hands behind their back for nine minutes during the protest on May 31.

After the marches reached their final destinations, protesters laid on the ground with their arms behind their backs chanting "I can't breathe" for nine minutes to represent George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Black community members spoke about their own experiences and fears at both protests. People of all races gave their support, both verbally and physically.

Two men embrace after laying on the ground with their hands behind their back for nine minutes during the protest on June 1.

"I used to get beat up by the police all the time as a kid, so this has been my whole life story," political science faculty member Sterling Johnson said. "I'm here because my life matters."

CMU President Bob Davies attended and supported protesters at the June 1 march, which started on campus.

"I came out today because we have students take such an active role in righting a wrong, how could you not be here?" Davies said. "I think its important that things like this happen at (CMU) because we are a primarily white institution and the world is not primarily white.

“It is the diversity of ideas, the diversity of thoughts, the diversity of backgrounds that much us a rich population, a rich culture, a rich nation. We need to be able to embrace that togetherness and understand our differences so that we can move forward together."

Police officers block off a street in front of Isabella Bank and Trust during the march on May 31.

On both days, police officers from the Mount Pleasant Police Department and CMU Police Department helped guide the group of protesters and block off roads. 

"The ideal (protest) is what you saw here this afternoon," CMU Police Chief Larry Klaus said. "It's collaboration with the individuals putting the protests together working with law enforcement, so it can be safe for everybody and to also discourage any violence or destruction of property. That's what the model is and we'd hope that Mount Pleasant would serve as that model for cities throughout the state of Michigan."

Both protests remained peaceful with hundreds of attendees. Passing cars honked in support, and pedestrians cheered the crowd on the sidelines.