Protesters march through Port

More than 100 people described by police as ‘very decent, very organized’ participate in Black Lives Matter demonstration organized by local college students

THE LINE OF protesters marching on sidewalks from Veterans Memorial Park through downtown Port and back stretched several blocks. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press staff

A crowd of more than 100 people ranging in age from children to senior citizens gathered in Veterans Memorial Park, then marched through downtown Port on Sunday in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The event, organized by two Port Washington college students who were harassed during an otherwise peaceful protect  June 12, included speeches and eight minutes, 46 seconds of silence during which many participants kneeled in honor of George Floyd, the Minnesota man killed after a police officer knelt on his neck for that amount of time.

Those attending heard speakers who urged them to confront racism and injustice.

“We have to have the uncomfortable conversations,” organizer Natalie Kelm said. 

Co-organizer Izzi Wickus told the crowd racism is an underlying problem in the community, one that needs to be confronted to make the world a better place.

Port Washington High School junior Eli Mueller told the assembly that the recent movement has given people a voice they didn’t think they had. He was treated worse than other kids for years, he said.

“It took me 13 years to understand why,” said Mueller, adding it was the color of his skin that made the difference. 

Referring to recent incidents involving African-Americans, he asked, “How did we allow things to get this bad? We need to keep up the fight.”

People need to confront their prejudices, he said, to stay informed and to vote.

“All lives matter, we understand that, but many people don’t believe black lives matter,” Mueller added.

The crowd marched from the park through downtown Port, then back again, holding signs that read “Time to Listen,” “Silence Supports Violence,” “Don’t Look Away and Say I Did Not Know” “The System is Broken Because It was Built This Way.”

They chanted the names of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, who was killed in her Louisville, Ky., apartment by police executing a no-knock search warrant. They shouted “No Justice, No Peace” and “I Can’t Breathe.”

“There is a reason we’re all out here marching,” speaker Kia Fisher told the crowd. “We’re trying to bring attention to a cancer that is ruining and killing us all.”

Kelm said she was pleased with the attendance.

“There were a lot more people than I expected,” she said. “Someone messaged me and said three generations of her family came. So many people think of the Black Lives Matters movement as people in their 30s and younger. A lot more people support it than that.”

The event was largely peaceful, Port Washington Police Chief Kevin Hingiss said.

“The protesters were very decent, very organized,” he said, noting police estimated the crowd at 125 people.

Only one incident occurred, he said, when a 54-year-old Fredonia man driving on Franklin Street was stopped in traffic as the marchers crossed the street and yelled to them, “All lives matter.”

Hingiss said a 48-year-old man from Sussex who was protesting was upset by this, approached the driver and threatened to fight him, then threw a full water bottle into the driver’s face.

A police officer grabbed the man’s arm but let go when he told police not to touch him, Hingiss said. Police watched the man throughout the rest of the protest, then stopped him as he left the event.

Hingiss said police have forwarded a request to charge the man with battery or disorderly conduct to the district attorney’s office.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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