MEQUON -- A Black Lives Matter march in Mequon led to a peaceful interruption of traffic at a busy intersection on Saturday, June 20.
Prepared to demonstrate rain or shine, afternoon thunderstorms let up just in time for the march to begin.
"Police brutality. I want to shine a light on that. I want to shine a light on systemic racism," said organizer Jessica Key. "I just felt like it was really important to let people know that racism, even though it may not be apparent at times, it may be overt, it still exists."
The demonstration kicked off in a parking lot at the intersection of Mequon Road and Port Washington Road. Two to three hundred marched nearly four miles down Mequon Road. Many of the marchers were from Mequon.
"I remember growing up as a child always having to feel like I was the odd man out," said Key. "Sometimes we were harassed by the police when I wanted my friends that did not live in Mequon to come and visit me, I understood that they were scared because of the police presence."
The group took a knee at the intersection of Mequon Road and Cedarburg Road. After the powerful moment, the intersection was back to normal. Mequon police helped block off the area to keep demonstrators safe, and many demonstrators thanked police for being there.
"I want to thank the mayor for being supportive and the Mequon police for also supporting and keeping us safe," said Key.
Some of the protesters were teachers in the Mequon-Thiensville School District, speaking against racism.
"I think we have to re-address it where we can, within the classroom, within the school, within the city," teacher Rae Mitchell said.
The message gained additional importance after an offensive video of some students reenacting George Floyd's death surfaced in the past week.
"I think it was horrible, but I don't think they should be expelled. I think they should stay and I think they should have to face their peers, and I think they should live through that experience and hopefully they learn from it," said Key.
Demonstrators hope more education will help the community -- and the nation -- heal.