Vernon holds anti-racism protest


| 09 Jun 2020 | 10:36

Under sunny skies in 80 degree heat, protesters lined Vernon’s only sidewalks in front of the CVS at the corner of Route 94 and Main Street between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 6.

They held signs and chanted.

More protesters stood in the grassy area chatting in groups, chanting and holding signs. People kept arriving. People in vehicles honking horns, people cheered and the crowd of protesters chanted: “Black Lives Matter!” “I can’t breathe” “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now!” “No Justice! No Peace!” “Tell me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like.” “These racist cops have got to go!” “Solidarity” “Hands up! Don’t shoot!”

One truck driver in a huge semi slowly passed through the intersection at about 11:30 a.m., honking loudly all the way. Protesters cheered often and long.

Kendahl Shortway organized the event with Megan and Elizabeth Knight joining her.

Shortway said their purpose was to be a visible force, taking a stance against racism. She said,

“We think it will lead to more positive responses and create meaningful actions,” Shortway said.

She said her goal was to make Vernon, which is 95 percent white, a part of the dialogue of change. The event also featured voter registration.

Vernon Township Mayor Howard Burrell said he was amazed and pleased at the peaceful turnout. Both Burrell and his wife, Reba, graduated from Tennessee State.

“This is today,” he said, smiling. “This is more than an important protest.”

He said he believed the protest signals a significant movement. The crowd cheered. He applauded Shortway for organizing the event.

Additional resources
READ: So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo; How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi; White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo; Me and White Supremacy by Layla F Saad; The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander; Punishment and Inequality in America by Bruce Western; For reading lists on policing, incarceration, and racism inherent in both of these, check out the Prison Culture blog and the African American Intellectual History Society.
LISTEN: 1619 - New York Times; About Race -; Code Switch - NPR; Intersectionality Matters! Hosted by Kimberle Crenshaw; Seeing White - Scene on Radio
WATCH: 13th (Ava DuVernay) - Netflix; American Son (Kenny Leon) Netflix; Dear White People (Justin Simien) - Netflix; If Beale Street Could talk (Barry Jenkins) - Hulu; Just Mercy (Destin Daniel Cretton) Free to rent on various platforms during June Free lectures on African American History through Stanford and Yale University
DONATE: Back Visions Collective; Reclaim the Block; Unicorn Riot; National Bail Fund Network; Southern Poverty Law Center.
For a list of more anti-racism resources