Menomonie (WQOW)- In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, protesters nationwide are taking to the streets, including right here in the Chippewa Valley.
Hundreds rallied on the corner of Main St. and Broadway in Menomonie Wednesday calling for justice following the death of George Floyd.
Jacob Doherty said he organized the protest because even in small, predominantly white communities it is important to show solidarity.
"We don't see that police racism first-hand, but we need to acknowledge that it still exists," Doherty said. "We need to understand that this isn't just city reforming. This is the entire nation. This is us. This is everyone."
For four hours, the group peacefully called out for change.
"This energy is what we need. My heart is full right now, " Alicia Gunderson said.
"We need justice. Our people need justice, and if justice is not going to come, we're going to demand it," another protester said.
Heather Richardson said she was there for her nephew.
"I'm sick and tired of living in this world," she said. "Our kids deserve better, and we need to speak up for them. We need to vote. We need to get the hate out, because it's ugly."
For many, Wednesday’s protest hit close to home.
"We're sick of this," another protester said. "I'm a black man. I shouldn't have to be in fear of leaving my house [and] driving a car."
Josiah Berry said he's not new to the fight for justice, and has been studying the subject for a long time.
"When something's wrong, it's wrong. Just like gravity is gravity, fact is fact, and the fact is George Floyd was murdered like so many others in America."
Doherty said he was extremely proud of the turnout.
"This is the real power of using our voices to amplify our black brothers and sisters right now," Doherty said. "We have the power and the privilege to do that. Why aren't we using it? We're using it right now."
He wanted to stress that this was a peaceful protest.
"We do not want to derail our conversation through violence," Doherty said. "Our community is here standing with us. It does no good for us to demonstrate violence and that way to get a message across, when we can be heard louder than ever standing in solidarity as we are now."
The Menomonie Police Chief released a statement on the department's Facebook page regarding the protest.
Chief Eric Atkinson said the department is committed to protecting people's constitutional rights, including the right to free speech and to assemble for protest. Atkinson thanked those fighting for social justice and criminal justice reform.