Multiple protests were held in Athens County in June in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Black Lives Matter was formed in 2013 following the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, a black teenager killed in Florida. The movement came back into the national spotlight following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.
The protests in Athens County were mainly held in Uptown Athens, though protests also took place in Nelsonville. At the protests, community members and students joined together to march, hear speakers, chant and carry signs with various statements like, “Black Lives Matter”, “Justice for George Floyd” and “I can’t breathe” – the last words spoken by Floyd as he was dying.
Floyd’s last words were also the last words of Eric Garner, a black man who died after being choked by a New York City police officer in 2014.
Athens’ protests were peaceful, with water bottles and face masks being passed out by some participants. A few members of local law enforcement at the time were reported on social media to have posed for a photo with protesters during the event, though none were present at the time coverage.
Around the country, some protests have been accompanied by looting and violence. Various national news outlets have reported on the destruction of property and police brutality towards protesters and journalists who covered the events.
Nelsonville’s protests were organized by Cam Chilcote, a 2015 Nelsonville-York graduate.
“I could never imagine Nelsonville coming out for black people like this, this is amazing,” Chilcote told the crowd at the time. “This whole protest is about peace, love and unity. Nothing else — we will not tolerate anything else.”