Black Lives Matter protestors call for government action
As protests against police use of force and systemic racism continue across the country, activists in North Dakota have taken to the streets as well. On the morning of Saturday, Aug. 29, several hundred community members gathered in Island park to protest the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Blake was shot in the back seven times while walking away from police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Currently, the officers involved are on administrative leave and are not facing charges. Blake, who is now paralyzed from his waist down, is facing multiple charges for the related incident.
On Sept. 5, a video of Blake from his hospital bed was released in which he spoke of his injuries.
“I just want to say, man, that all the young cats out there, and even the older ones older than me, it’s a lot more life to live out here, man. Your life and not only just your life, your legs, something that you need to move around and move forward in life, can be taken from you like this, man,” Blake said.
Saturday, Aug. 29, marked the fifth Black Lives Matters protest in the area since the police killing of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Previous protests in the Fargo-Moorhead area have been in conjunction between two organizations: Black Lives Matter-Fargo/Moorhead and OneFargo ND-Stand For Change. Both organizations have similar goals, but OneFargo wishes to distinguish itself from BLM-FM.
“Human rights are more important than civil rights. All black peoples’ lives matter, no matter their creed or color,” BLM-FM states as part of their mission statement on their website at blacklivesmatterfm.com.
Black Lives Matter and One Fargo Leaders Wess Philome and Henry Gipp led protestors on a march through downtown Fargo. Protesters marched their way north from Island Park to Fargo city hall, then crossed over on Fourth Ave. to reach Broadway before marching back to Island Park.
The group, donning masks and holding flags and signs, blocked the road joining together in chants to bring awareness to police brutality and racial injustice in North Dakota. Chants of “no justice, no peace” and “where is Burgum?” filled the streets of downtown Fargo as the protesters marched the streets and called for government action.
Gipp, whose own brother was killed by officers in 2017, brought attention to four police killings in North Dakota that have happened in the past five years. “People think that here we are immune to everything that is happening across the country, but people are being killed right here in North Dakota,” Gipp said.
Gipp and Philome spoke several times demanding more action from city officials. They encouraged the public to attend Fargo City Council’s bi-weekly meetings and voice their concerns during public hearing times.
“The only way we can do anything, the only way those in power will listen to us, the only way change can happen, is if the people speak up and speak together,” Philome said.
Several counter-protesters were present, and Fargo police were in close proximity, but protests concluded peacefully. Philome stated that Saturday wouldn’t be the last time activists would have to take to the street and raise their voices.
“If you don’t show up, we cannot win,” Philome said, adding that he will call upon the FM community more in the future.