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The JG-TC's No. 6 story of 2020: Charleston, Mattoon see protests, calls for racial justice

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Year in review: Protests

Participants in what was called the Coles County Peace March walk along Charleston Avenue in Mattoon during the June event.

Local protests in response to violence against Blacks started shortly after incidents that put the issue in the national spotlight earlier this year.

Some heated words between protesters and others took place during at least one of the demonstrations but they were absent of any violence.

The first local event took place in Charleston in May, a march from the Eastern Illinois University campus to the courthouse square. It took place shortly after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The Charleston Police Department issued a statement after the march acknowledging the “peaceful protest.” It praised people “from all walks of life” for expressing concern about the death of Floyd and others.

“You showed great poise while at the same time spreading the message,” the statement said.

Days later, another march and protest took place in Mattoon, with a march that ended at City Hall.

"The march was peaceful. That was what we expected, what we prayed for and what we hoped for," organizer Meredith Goodwin said after the event.

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A second Mattoon march took place a few days later, which began with speakers at Peterson Park and was followed by a march along Charleston Avenue.

Organizer Kylon Weaver said he was encouraged by the nonviolent protests and reactions to Floyd's death, not only in the United States but in other countries as well.

In August, local police supporters conducted a rally outside the Coles County Courthouse. It took place shortly after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, but organizers said they started planning the event weeks earlier.

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The rally led to a counter-demonstration that started on the opposite side of the building.

The Black Lives Matters supporters marched to the area of the rally as it was ending, chanting messages and exchanging words with some of those there to support law enforcement.


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