A protest will take place in Gibson City Friday.
Audrey Maxey and Caleb Rogers, two of the organizers of Friday’s protest, spoke about their plans for the protest on Friday and the goals of the protest.
Rogers said protesters will gather at 5 p.m. Friday at city hall in Gibson City.
While there, Rogers said they will have a quick prayer for peace and a moment of silence before marching from city hall to North Park.
Once they get to the park, he said, they will have a few speakers and then they will head on home.
Rogers said they are hoping around 100 people show up for the protest since around that number of people have shown an interest via their Facebook event.
Asked what inspired this protest, Maxey said she took part in the Bloomington protest May 31 and started thinking more and more about what’s going on in the world right now.
“Some events then led up to me being like ‘I absolutely have to do something in Gibson City, I need to be proud of my hometown,’” she said.
From there, Maxey spoke with her friend Bailey Salyards, who is serving as the protest’s social media co-ordinater, and together they decided they needed someone else to who could deescalate the situation if there was a need and be able to talk to people with opposing beliefs without alienating them.
“We felt that Caleb would be the poster child for that kind of thing,” she said. “We thought that he was going to be the perfect addition to our team and here we are and it’s going just as we had hoped for so far.”
Rogers hopes this protest will share a message of positivity in the community.
“My 100 percent goal is to spread, positivity and justice throughout Gibson City and the surrounding communities,” he said. “I want people to understand that if we fight together we can cause a change to happen. You don’t have to pick a side to unify. This is not about race or anything of the sort, this is about equality for everyone and unity within our community and making our community stronger and more beneficial for everyone.”
“This is just for us to show our own people in our small town that everybody matters, everybody has a voice whether they are able to use it or not,” Maxey said. “We are here for you and we’re here to speak for you when you feel like you don’t have a voice.”
Asked about the concerns concerns that the protest might become violent like some protests have in other cities, Rogers said the protest organizers spoke with Gibson City Mayor Don Dickey, Police Chief Adam Rosendahl and the Illinois State Police to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the protest will remain peaceful.
“We were both transparent, we both have the same goal and we’re all coming to an understanding and an agreement,” he said. “The police are going to be out in squad cars riding with us while we protest to make sure there’s no violence.”
Rogers said they met with the authorities not only to ensure that everyone was on the same page but also to ensure that police resources would be available to serve the rest of the community as well as those participating in the protest at the same time.
“We wanted to make sure other places would be safe as well,” he said. “They said they were 100 percent prepared and equipped for making sure that elsewhere is also safe as well as our protest.”
Maxey expressed her appreciation to the police and the city for working together with them in safely organizing this protest.
“We’re extremely thankful that they were able to reach out and that we were able to completely work together on keeping the people that we feel have the same ideas as us safe and keeping the peace,” she said.
Maxey also thanked the community and the surrounding areas for showing their support.
“We just want to thank the community very much for so much support,” she said. “Not just in Gibson City, we’ve had people from Mahomet, people from Paxton and the surrounding cities that say how much they’re proud of us and how much they’re wanting to there or wish they could be there. Any support we’ve gotten from anybody is really appreciated.”
Rogers said his stance on the situation is that he wants equality and to root our injustice everywhere.
“My whole stance here is I’m all about equality and bringing down injustice, not only in our community, but all over the world,” he said. “It means a lot that not only the Gibson City Police Department, but my community can get behind me and help give a voice to those of us who are voiceless.”
Gibson City Police Chief Adam Rosendahl said he had spoken with the organizers and was looking forward to working with organizers and ensuring everything goes peacefully.
“We’re looking forward to working with them and keeping things peaceful,” he said. “We’ll be there with them and just try to keep the peace and hope everything goes well.”
Rosendahl, who spoke with the Ford County Record Thursday afternoon, said the department was in the process of sorting out all of the details for handling route planned for the march from city hall to North Park.
The Gibson City Police Department will escort the protesters as they march to the park.
“We’ll definitely be shutting down some intersections as they walk and then opening them back up as they get past them,” he said. “We’re working on the logistics of that with our city crew right now.”
Rosendahl said the protesters will gather behind city hall in the parking lot and they will then walk north on Church Street to 13th Street then take a right and go into the park there.
Once they reach the park, Rosendahl said officers will be present, but will stand back from the group so they can gather and speak.
He said officers will be there to keep the peace, but he’s not expecting any issues.
“Hopefully everything stays peaceful,” Rosendahl said. “We fully expect that it will.”