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This article was published 6/6/2020 (231 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Holding signs reading "Black Lives Matter," "If you’re not livid, you’re not listening" and "End police brutality," approximately 200 people took to Brandon streets on Friday evening to show their support for Black Lives Matter marches across Canada and in the United States.
The march, which started at the Healthy Living Centre at Brandon University and was organized by students, was in response the killing of Georg Floyd by police in Minneapolis last month. His death has sparked protests and marches across North America against police brutality.
Brandon University graduates Jasmine Scantlebury and Kelly Abad-Penaranda organized the march. Scantlebury, who said she is half black, said she has experienced racism in Canada.
"I know a lot of us think racism is more of a U.S. thing, but it really isn’t," Scantlebury said.
"Especially for Indigenous people as well, we need to understand that people are marginalized as well here."
While the idea started among a group of friends, Scantlebury said, the event picked up steam on social media. Organizers originally estimated approximately 50 people would come out, but said they were overwhelmed by the response they saw.
Participants were encouraged to wear masks and physically distance during the march down 18th Street to Richmond Avenue. Groups of five to 10 protesters left from Brandon University at a time as cars sounded their horns in support of marchers.
Brandon Police Service Chief Wayne Balcaen attended the march. He said he wanted to show his support for the cause and bring attention to the fact that not everyone is treated equally.
Zaina Bird, one of the marchers, said she was moved to see the number of people who came out.
"We should be building a better society and all lives add to the beauty of diversity that the world has," she said. "There’s obviously always going to be people that don’t love you for who you are based on certain things, but I hope we can change that."
Sunday Frangi said he was outraged to see the video of Floyd’s death and other black people after contact with the police.
"Racism is something that we have to fight as people and I think the death of George Floyd has brought people together and it’s brought a clear understanding that racism, discrimination are not accepted. … We have to speak out about it, in this community we have to talk about it."
David Lopez said more action is needed to address racism in Canada. He said it’s an issue that needs to be discussed, and with a greater understanding people will become more comfortable around each other.
It’s important to raise awareness for issues marginalized communities face here at home, Abad-Penaranda said. Issues around racism aren’t unique to larger centres and happen in Brandon.
Earlier this week, students at Brandon University took to social media to denounce racist social media posts by one of their peers.
The posts, made by four students, stretch from October 2018 to Tuesday.
White members of this friend group make frequent jokes about their black friend being a slave or for sale. One video shows a black man in a cage pretending to act like an animal as he is referred to by the racial slur n----- by several unseen voices.
Another post from Tuesday appeared to make light of "blackout Tuesday," a social media initiative in support of the protests against anti-black racism and police brutality happening in the United States, by insinuating it involves a sex act with black men.
Brandon University denounced the posts in a statement on Wednesday, calling them "heinous and hateful acts of racism." The university said it was investigating through its Diversity and Human Rights Office.
Scantlebury said seeing those posts cemented their desire to take local action. The university’s response was "appropriate," Abad-Penaranda said.
"(Scantlebury) and I are just a couple of normal, average BU students. We were able to make a difference. You don’t have to be special or have everything worked out or know everything to pull off something like this. I just want everyone to know if we could do this and make a difference then absolutely you can too," Abad-Penaranda said.
She said the best way for people to make a difference themselves is just to be kind, give each other compliments or donate to charities supporting the movement.
A Black Lives Matter protest was also held at the Manitoba Legislature on Friday afternoon.
Other local marches are also planned. A march is planned to start at the Keystone Centre on June 11 at 5 p.m. and another peaceful protest is planned for Princess Park on June 13 at 5 p.m.
» Twitter: @DrewMay_