by Leah Alsept
More than 50 people attended the informal gathering organized by the City of Findlay in Dorney Plaza on June 4. Called a “collective demonstration of peace,” in the official press release, Mayor Christina Muryn introduced several figures in the community to speak on the topic of diversity, including founder of the Black Heritage Library & Multicultural Center Nina Parker, Executive Director of the Spectrum Foundation of Findlay Dr. Jasmin Bradley, and Black Heritage Library & Multicultural Center board member Jerome Gray.
Gathering together just before noon were several dozen people, ready to listen to what the speakers had to say. A few attendees came with signs in preparation for the protest after the speeches.
“I think that it’s really just about recognizing that we need to love everybody and we want to be an inclusive community,” Mayor Muryn said after the event. “And the best way to sure people feel welcome to is show them that they’re welcome, and that means supporting them when they’re hurting. And making sure that we as a community step up to say ‘we value diversity’.”
Shortly after the event ended, protesters gathered and marched down to the front of the Hancock County Courthouse to protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd.
Findlay Police Lieutenant James Mathias who attended the gathering said the Findlay Police Department is happy that the protesters have been peaceful all week, and despite being a little too close to each other, doing it for a good reason. He says the protesting group has been about 60-70 people at its strongest this week.
“Hopefully it shows a better light towards the rest of the communities around us. A lot of the smaller communities aren’t having the issues, it’s the bigger ones,” he said. “Hopefully it turns more of a peaceful demonstrating, the rioting, the looting, the fires, the criminal damaging that’s happening, hopefully that can ease up a little bit. That’s not the way it should be done.”
Protesters in front of the Hancock County Courthouse stressed the importance of all people, especially young people, to participate in the democratic process.
Cathy Weygandt is a protester who attended the gathering and participated in the protest.
“It’s so important that our young people get registered to vote,” said Weygandt. “The only way we’re going to change this is from the top down. And the top needs to change, majorly.”
“If the politicians don’t hear from us with our phone calls and letters and if they’re not responsive, we need to vote them out,” continued Lee Weygandt, another protester at the Courthouse. “It’s so important to get out and vote every election, not just the presidential election, because the courts are stuffed with partisan activists that do not act in the interests of American citizens. They’re backing the big money brokers that put them in power. And, to me, that’s immoral.”
Mayor Muryn says the City of Findlay has not planned anymore events in the future like the informal discussion held on Thursday. Another event organized on Facebook called “Peaceful Protest Against Police Brutality & Systemic Corruption by the City of Findlay,” hosted by several Findlay residents, including Nina Parker, was scheduled for June 6 from 2 to 5:30 p.m. beginning at the Hancock County Courthouse.
Thursday’s event was exempt from mass gathering limitations under the COVID-19 protocols. The limitation bans gatherings of more than 100 people in a single confined indoor or outdoor space, enacted on March 12 as stated from the governor’s office.