Local man organizing unity walk this weekend to march for George Floyd
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IDAHO FALLS – In the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month, a local man is organizing a unity walk in his honor.
Idaho Falls resident Fernando Espinoza, an Idaho State University student, is inviting the community to participate in a march Saturday, June 20. The Idaho Falls Chapter of the African American Alliance is the main sponsor of the event. The event will begin at 2:30 p.m. in front of the Museum of Idaho.
“Our slogan for the event is ‘Standing Together,'” Espinoza tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Espinoza will welcome the crowd and provide T-shirts with the slogan for those in attendance. The march will begin at 3 p.m.
It will go from the museum to the stage in the parking lot of ISU Credit Union at 700 Memorial Drive.
A period of silence lasting 8 minutes and 46 seconds will be observed immediately following the march.
“That’s how long George Floyd was held down on the ground,” Espinoza says. “What happened to him is unacceptable. I want to honor him for the time he was down there.”
Several speakers will then address the crowd.
Among those speaking will be Idaho Falls Mayor Rebecca Casper. Other invited guests include Police Chief Bryce Johnson, local Tedx Speaker Toni L. Carter and David Snell, president of the Idaho Falls African American Alliance.
“Because we’re a global tourist destination, we know that the differences among people are infinite and we know how to make people who are different feel at home,” Carter says. “I want to talk about our unique position in helping to shape this conversation, and I want to encourage people to explore four suggestions … around accelerating change in our world.”
The unity walk will be a peaceful event, Espinoza says, and Idaho Falls police will be there to help keep it that way.
“It’s Idaho so we’re not worried about looting or rioting, but Idaho Falls Police will be there (as a precautionary measure) to help maintain the peace,” he says.
Espinoza says he was inspired to organize this walk after attending a similar event in Pocatello two weeks ago. Four football players at Idaho State University organized a march in two days to protest police brutality, Espinoza says.
“They were expecting 50, maybe 100 people and 1,200 showed up, which was insane,” he says. “It was incredible to see how, in Idaho, we had that togetherness, we had that unity. A lot of people came together in two days to support it.”
Though Espinoza would love to see a similar turnout for his event, what he wants most of all is for people, particularly youth, to come together in unity and peace and have a conversation.
“The purpose is to (hear people in our community talk about) equal rights, diversity, racism and become more knowledgeable (about these topics),” he says. “In Idaho, we don’t (experience police brutality), but we support (those who are against it).”
Snell says Idaho Falls does not have a lot of the problems that other communities in the U.S. experience and city officials are very proactive in reaching out to minority groups for ideas on how to better serve them.
“Sit down and get to know your police chief. What he told me is ‘Dave, I want my officers to know and understand the people that they police.’ He won my heart then. He didn’t have to say anything else to me,” Snell says. “Let this be a blueprint for other cities across America.”
Snell hopes people of all races and backgrounds will support the unity walk and stand in solidarity as brothers and sisters in the human family.
“For far too long, we’ve seen things from a black or a white perspective. I think this event can help change the mindset of a lot of people. This could be the catalyst that brings us together, rather than divides us,” says Snell.
Espinoza anticipates the whole event lasting between 75 minutes and 90 minutes. Cash donations will be accepted and will be given to the Idaho Falls Community Food Basket.
In a statement to EastIdahoNews.com, Casper emphasized why these events are important to Idaho Falls.
“Racism has no place in Idaho Falls and should have no place in our society. We must all be aware and do all we can individually and as a country to condemn it. I look forward to joining with members of our community Saturday to do my part to stand up and share that message,” Casper says.