Several hundred people showed up to Chilliwack secondary school Friday afternoon for one of many Black Lives Matter marches held across North America.
The group was escorted by RCMP officers along the parade route that was blocked to vehicle traffic by City of Chilliwack crews along Yale Road, Nowell Street, Princess Avenue and Young Road ending at Central Community Park.
Protesters carried a variety of signs, from Black Lives Matter to messages about inclusion. “Silence supports violence,” “Divest from racism,” and “I can’t breathe” were among the many messages.
The march was led by 17-year-old Leandra Soleil and her friends, who worked with the City and the RCMP to ensure the event would remain safe for the community.
Leandra was one of several young black women and girls who spoke at Central Community Park about their experiences with racism growing up in Chilliwack. From micro-aggressions and bad treatment at some retail stores, all the way to outright racist name calling, they had emotional stories to share.
The march and rally was largely peaceful. One counter protester, a man well-known to Chilliwack RCMP, followed the march with his own sign. And an older man and two women with signs and a bullhorn attempted to disrupt the rally at the park, but they were quickly shouted down by those involved in the march, eventually escorted away by police.
A second Chilliwack Black Lives Matter rally was scheduled for Saturday at Five Corners.
– with files from Jessica Peters
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