Protest marchers come to Groveport

By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Photos by Marie Kujawski
Groveport Police Sgt. Josh Short shares a pleasant moment with the organizer of the march, Pastor Kelsey Crenshaw.

A group of about 200 protest marchers brought their message of “Black Lives Matter” to Groveport on June 13.

The march, led by Pastor Kelsey Crenshaw, went the length of Groveport’s Main Street from the Kroger parking lot to the Groveport Recreation Center. The march was organized as a protest against police violence and the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer (who is now charged with murder) pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Unlike other recent protests nationwide that turned violent, the protest march in Groveport was peaceful.

About 200 people participated in a march along Groveport’s Main Street on June 13 to protest against police violence and the death of George Floyd. Floyd, a black man, died in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white police officer (who is now charged with murder) pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes. Unlike other recent protests nationwide that turned violent, the protest march in Groveport was peaceful.

When asked why such a march was held in Groveport, Crenshaw, who is a Groveport resident and noted he has experienced “zero of examples of racism” himself in Groveport, said, “Why not here? The message is not just for big cities, it is important to small communities, too. Groveport needs diversity just as Columbus and elsewhere. We want to educate. We must abolish racism. People are tired of racism. We have a purpose. We must all stand up for truth and righteousness and know that the love of God is everywhere.”

Crenshaw met with Groveport city officials and the Groveport Police prior the march. He said the police, the mayor, and city officials were “fantastic and supported this 100 percent.”

Two marchers with their signs which read, “I am not a threat,” and “I can breathe. I will breathe. Black Lives Matter.”

“We are not against the police,” said Crenshaw. “We are against racism. We want to use our voices for positive purposes.”

The march began during a steady rain in the late morning of June 13. The 200 marchers were a mix of white and black protesters who chanted, “No division with God,” “Black Lives Matter,” “No justice, no peace,” and other phrases while they walked.

Among the marchers was the Goudy family of Groveport.

“We as a family have seen inequality and injustice in person, not just on the nightly news,” said Roy Goudy. “As humans we must eliminate inequality and seek justice one day at a time and one step at a time.”

David Kalb of Groveport holds up the “Thin Blue Line” flag as a counter-protest to the march and to show his support for the police.

A little ways into the march, Crenshaw stopped to slow the pace of the procession.

“Slow down,” he told the marchers, “We want everyone to see and hear what we have to say.”

The sidewalks and yards along Main Street were mostly deserted during the march. A few people could be seen watching from their yards and porches and others peered out windows. One man flashed a peace sign to the marchers as they passed his house. The town was so quiet during the march that the sounds of the chanting protesters could be heard echoing off the buildings along Main Street.

At College and Main streets a small group of peaceful counter-protesters stood with an outstretched “Thin Blue Line” police flag to show their support for the police.

Angela Smith, 17, gave an impassioned speech at the end of the march in Groveport Park.

“We are here to support the men and women of the Groveport Police Department,” said David Kalb of Groveport as he held the Thin Blue Line flag. “The Groveport Police are a great bunch of people. We need the police. They are working people just like anyone else. The police are getting a bad rap. There are always a few bad apples in any job.”

The Groveport Police provided protection and support for the marchers and everyone along the march route.The officers wore their regular uniform gear and were present in police cruisers, on bicycles, and an all-terrain vehicle. The marchers and onlookers remained peaceful the entire time and there were no incidents.

“When we got word that the pastor was planning a protest we reached out and made contact to see how we could help to make the protest go as smoothly as possible,” said Groveport Police Sgt. Josh Short. “All of the communication with the pastor was great and he made it clear from the start that this was to be a ‘peaceful protest.’”

Short said the large number of participants and their enthusiasm “was impressive” and there were no problems.

“After seeing how many of the other nationwide protests had become violent and not having any real experience with large scale protests in Groveport we were pleased and proud with how this turned out,” said Short. “This speaks to the positive sense of community that has been fostered in the city of Groveport where people try to do the right thing and treat each other courteously every day.”

“Kudos to the Groveport Police Department for how they handled the march,” said Mayor Lance Westcamp. “Nothing like this has ever happened in Groveport before and we made it a success. Everyone went home safe.”

The Daugherty family with their signs. Toya Daugherty (right) said the family chose the Bible verse Proverbs 31:9 because it is about the power of protest. They said the verse speaks to the idea that silence is complicity and that it is important to stand up and speak out.

Among the marchers was a heavy presence of Groveport Madison Schools employees and students, including Superintendent Garilee Ogden who said, “We know it is our duty to serve all of our students and to give our kids a voice. All black kids matter and all kids matter at Groveport Madison Schools. We will do whatever we have to do to eliminate systemic racism in our district.”

The Daugherty family participated in the march and carried signs with a biblical theme. Toya Daugherty said the family chose the Bible verse Proverbs 31:9 for one sign because it is about the power of protest. They said the verse speaks to the idea that silence is complicity and that it is important to stand up and speak out.

A protest march supporter flashes a peace sign as the marchers pass his home along Main Street.

Once the march reached Groveport Park, the group gathered in one of the parking lots and several people made short speeches. One impassioned speaker was 17-year-old Angela Smith, who said in reference to the long history of violence against blacks nationwide, “There’s been too many killed. Say their names. It’s too many. If you feel uncomfortable talking about that, that’s too bad. People shouldn’t have to ask for justice.  We want change. We need unity.”

The marchers then kneeled silently at the end of the march for eight minutes and 46 seconds, which is the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd as Floyd died.

Afterwards, the crowd quietly dispersed. Crenshaw noted this march is just the beginning.

This marcher’s sign notes that racism is a pandemic itself.
Among the marchers were many youths, including this one riding on the shoulders of an adult.
The marchers kneeled silently at the end of the march for eight minutes and 46 seconds, which is the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on the neck of George Floyd.

“Enough is enough,” he said.

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