In response to the recent tragedies of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and more, activists internationally have been igniting protests against unjustified police policies and violence. Protests have rapidly spread across the country, has officially been in all 50 states as of Thursday, June 4th. These protests have recently been brought close to home for the Falcon Feeder pattern with the peaceful protest located right off of Heritage Trace.
Through the brief span of my journalistic career, there has not yet been a(n) collection of interviews that were as moving as the ones I experienced at the June 4th, 2020 protests. I was granted the opportunity to interview the two women who organized the rally, Crystal Artis and Jamel Casillas. Both are parents of children enrolled in nearby schools. They had initially designed the protest to be a small gathering for family and friends; however, word spread fast of a nearby protest through word of mouth and social media. Through a very simple, yet profound message, Jamel Casillas defined the motive for the rally.
“For all the innocent black people who are constantly being judged for what they look like and the color of their skin,” Casillas said. “We’re doing this for them, we’re letting them know that we’re there behind you and we’re going to speak up, we’re tired of being silent!”
Masked, sign bearing, and energized, the community was “rally ready” and by 5:15 pm an estimated 70-100 people were in the grasslands next to 7-11.
“I think it’s crazy how diverse the crowd is, honestly, that’s the biggest thing I noticed is there’s a lot of different people out here,” sophomore Jack Hopkins recalled.
When asked about their reasons for being out to rally, every activist had a different motive but with the same goal. Justice and equality.
As for an unnamed Keller ISD teacher’s motivation to protest, she expressed the importance of advocating. She chose to stay anonymous to keep her political views aside from her career, but was very vocal about how injustice affects her personally.
“I’m a teacher and if you’re a teacher and you have a diverse classroom or if you don’t have a diverse classroom – you have to advocate for your students, and that’s every single one of your students,” she said. “We’re there and our job is to help you kids to succeed and to help you guys to be everything you want in life, and if you’re dead you can’t do that. This is our responsibility to protect those we love, and we love our students.”
For an unnamed Falcon Alumni, they spoke on the reason behind the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It’s just all of it, like you know if we don’t start treating people like they matter – all lives don’t matter until Black Lives Matter,” they said. “That’s what I saw online so we just really want to be out here and show that we support and respect everyone that is out here.”
Furthermore, Artis explained how her own children pushed her fight for the movement.
“I have a son, a 5-year-old, and I want my son to have a chance of a fair life. I know it may seem fair but you know, unfortunately, when we walk into a room, especially being a darker complexion, sometimes you get it a little bit harder,” Artis said. “My daughter goes to a predominantly white school, and when she gets upset at the teacher, the narrative is ‘Oh she’s just an angry black girl.’ We just want a chance of fairness and not to be judged by something as simple as our color, which we can’t control; therefore, I wanted to bring my daughter to be apart of this so hopefully, her tomorrow is better than some of the stuff I had to grow up with.”
The protest ran a successful campaign, bringing people from all around the community to fight for permanent change.
“We live in a predominantly white neighborhood, you know to see white people protesting for black lives and people of color, it really does mean a lot,” one activist said. “It means a lot that people care, that surround us every day, you know sometimes it is easy to get caught up and think that ‘oh the people around us don’t really care’ but it is so awesome to see everybody come together for the same cause and just show that they’re there, that they support us and they’re with us.”
All seemed well through the protest, until approximately 7:02 p.m. when protesters and a passing car got into a war of words. This and the addition of a citywide curfew of 8 p.m., made most protesters wrap up and call it a day; however, this was not the end. The protests would continue on for 3 more days, and with a prominent message – the community stands for equality, and will never sit idle when injustice is happening.
“I think speaking up is the most important thing and to have these conversations,” Casillas said. “For a lot of people, this is uncomfortable. That’s okay though because it is a sensitive subject, but to keep the open dialogue and for people to speak out is vital. Silence is what perpetuated this, people speaking out saying ‘we’re done, we don’t want to see this anymore, this is not okay’ and we’re tired of everybody thinking we’re part of the problem.’ This is their opportunity to speak up and having those tough talks. This is reality for some people and I’m scared every time my son and my husband leave the house, every time my daughter leave the house, my brother in law, my sister in law, all of them, I’m scared for them and that’s not fair. I shouldn’t have to live my life in fear and this is me standing up saying I’m tired of it. We’re here — people are finally educating.”
To see Keller ISD’s response to radical injustice throughout our nation and school, check out the link below: