July Fourth protests raise awareness to confront different issues of America's history
SAINT JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. -- With ongoing uprisings nationwide, a combined few hundred in Saint Joseph County made their voices heard Saturday in three different protests, aiming to bring attention to America’s darker history on July Fourth.
Early Saturday afternoon, a rally for the removal of a Christopher Columbus statue in Mishawaka was held, featuring Jefferson Ballew IV of the Potawatomi nation as a speaker.
“…They named (Mishawaka) right after what we named it too,” Ballew IV said. “They had seen that it was a beautiful place to live so they colonized it. It would be as if I went to one of your homes and said, ‘Look what I found; this is beautiful, now get out.’”
Shortly after, Black Lives Matter activists parked on both sides of Lafayette Boulevard in downtown South Bend, in front of the County-City building.
Jorden Giger attended the caravan protest.
“We’re not here to celebrate colonial holidays that are bent out to support white power,” Giger said. “We want to talk about what’s happening to us as a people, to native and indigenous people, to Black people, to undocumented people. So we’re here to speak about those injustices.”
Mishawaka’s Battell Park then hosted a sit-in protest under its Union Civil War monument, before marching to the Main Street Bridge.
Protest attendee Rachael Klink said she is glad the group of dozens turned heads at the park.
“Who is this day really for?” Klink said. “The Fourth of July is not when Black people or Native Americans got their freedom. That came much later, and we have to fight for every step of the way, and then we have (our) history erased.”
The majority of the crowds were made up of young people, who said the protests showcase a needed form of patriotism.
“The reason that I am always standing up for what I Think is right it’s because I love this country, and so I want it to be a place that everyone feels welcome,” Klink said.
“I think the truest form of patriotism is turning your country into something that you can be proud of.”