‘The list is too long’: DeKalb activists hold vigil for victims of police brutality


Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

Jessica Webb, of DeKalb, holds a Daunte Wright sign on Friday during the vigil at Memorial Park.

By Kierra Frazier

DeKALB – George Floyd, Daunte Wright, Adam Toledo, Ma’Khia Bryant, were only a few of the many lives remembered at Friday’s vigil to remember those who’ve lost their lives to police brutality.

“The list is too long,” said Jocelyn Santana, local Black Lives Matter leader and director of social justice education at NIU. “Too long.”

Local Black Lives Matter activists and DeKalb residents met at Memorial Park, 101 Lincoln Highway, for a candlelight vigil to mourn the loss of Black and Brown lives “due to systemic and institutional violence.”

“Today, I am reminded that we have an opportunity to seek change,” said Maurice McDavid, assistant pastor at the United Pentecostal Church of DeKalb. “We have an opportunity to build on the court decision this week in the murder of George Floyd.”

Jocelyn Santana (left) and Maurice McDavid (right) at Friday’s vigil. (Patrick Murphy | Northern Star)

Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict Tuesday was only a small step toward progress, but community members said the work to unravel police brutality is just beginning.

“Tonight, as we take just a few moments, I would encourage you to think about human life; how valuable it is, and how much potential each life holds,” McDavid said. “And then, when we are done remembering tonight, it is time to go back to action so we don’t have to have any more of these vigils.”

Mary Beth Finch, of DeKalb, said Americans need to acknowledge how much more work there is left to do in an effort to achieve true equality.

“It’s about the system and the importance of addressing individual lives and the systems that lead to be violent and the failure to treat people of color right,” Finch said.

The candlelight vigil and moment of silence were followed by attendees using sidewalk chalk to spread messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and “change must happen.”

DeKalb activists use sidewalk chalk to write encouraging messages at Friday’s vigil. (Patrick Murphy | Northern Star)

Joe Mitchell, pastor at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, said we’re living in a country where “-isms,” such as racism, sexism and homophobia, are running wide. The only way we can fight these -isms is through unity, he said.

“While we are watching state-sanctioned killing of Black people, we as the people have to unite and fight together to say there’s a problem here and we’ll stand for it no more,” Mitchell said. “And the only way we do that is today.”

Lynnea Erickson, of DeKalb, said she came to the vigil because she believes that Black lives matter and the community needs to do more to affirm that truth.

“As white people, it’s our job to step back and be the support pushing that forward,” Erikson said.

Towards the end of the vigil, attendees chanted “Black Lives Matter” several times as people drove by and honked their horns.

“I feel like it’s very important for people to know that people every day are losing their lives,” Sarah Glynn, of DeKalb, said. “I think awareness is very important; we need to fight police brutality.”