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UPDATED: Large Black Lives Matter rally in Sarnia

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A crowd more than 500 strong marched through Sarnia’s downtown Saturday in a peaceful protest against anti-black racism.

“Today is a marvellous day,” United Church minister and social activist Adam Kilner told the rally gathering at City Hall.

Carrying signs that read, ‘White Silence = Violence’ and ‘Real Change Comes From The Heart,’ the demonstrators then marched through the downtown core.

United Church minister and social activist Adam Kilner addresses hundreds at the June 13 rally that started at City Hall. Troy Shantz

“Every single person of colour I’ve come in contact with over the last 30 years has been a victim of some form of racism, myself included,” said Tabitha Valdez, one of the organizers at the event. “Racism is very much an issue here, and all over the world, and ignorance is no longer an excuse.” 

She called for education systems to include more history on black and indigenous people, and she made pleas for more support for minorities when racism is seen. She urged families to have those “difficult, uncomfortable conversations,” about prejudice.

An unnamed protestor holds a sign at Sarnia City Hall referencing the death of George Floyd, an un-armed black man who was killed by Minneapolis Police on May 25 after being arrested for allegedly trying to make a purchase with a counterfeit bill. Floyd died in front of horrified onlookers after an officer pinned him by his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Troy Shantz

“If you can’t open your eyes and see what’s going on in this community and around the world, you are a part of the problem,” she said. “If you don’t understand why we are proclaiming ‘Black Lives Matter,’ you are part of the problem.”

“All lives can’t matter until Black Lives Matter, until Indigenous Lives Matter.”

The rally, like those across the world, was sparked by the death of George Floyd, a black man killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.

At least 500 anti-racism activists and demostrators marched through downtown, bringing traffic to a standstill. Troy Shantz.

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