Protests against police violence sweep across small-town America
Before sundown on Thursday around 150 protesters marched down the main street in Anna, Illinois, past Bob’s Tavern, Oasis of Grace Church, Douglas Skating Rink and Casey’s General Store holding homemade signs and chanting “black lives matter.”
Nearly a century ago this southern Illinois town of 4,200 residents expelled most of its African-American residents, according to historians.
The rally was held in solidarity with others protesting the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis with a white policeman’s knee on his neck. Some residents said they were marching as a way to try to move beyond their own community’s past.
Joe Plemon, 73, an elder at the First Evangelical Presbyterian Church, said he had prepared several Bible passages - laments - to read at the protest.
“We have been challenged within my own denomination, and I know this is going on at other churches as well, to say, ‘Let’s not just wink at this, let’s step up, let’s admit the things that we’re ashamed of and let’s confess the places where we’ve sinned.’”
Anna was once known as one of the “sundown towns,” or thousands of American localities where black people were not welcome, according to sociologist and historian James Loewen, who wrote a book about the phenomenon.
6 June 2020