BLACKLICK, Ohio (WCMH) – Layla Jones has been watching with the innocence of an 11-year-old as the world discusses the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody and protests over police brutality erupt nationwide.
“It’s sad that people have to deal with it and be worried about it — young and older,” she said.
Realizing racism was at the root of the outrage, the recent fifth grade graduate said she felt compelled to show her support for the protesters in nearby Columbus. Her parents proposed staying closer to their Blacklick home and inviting friends and neighbors.
“We can make our own protest, safe and steady down here,” Layla said.
Sunday morning, Layla’s family-friendly protest goal became a reality. With the coordination of friends and permission from Eastpointe Christian Church, dozens lined the side of Waggoner Road from the church property to a nearby gas station. Many waved signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and called for an end to racial injustice.
“That’s what we need right now is more people who are not oppressed to stand up for those who are and say, ‘Enough is enough.’ That’s how change happens,” said Alice Gardner.
Some parents said they were setting an example for their children.
“I want here to see from a young age that she has a voice, that the color of her skin should not matter, should not limit her opportunities,” Delila Wootten said of her daughter.
Katie Tilden added, “I’m going to ensure that my kids have a strong foundation that racism is wrong.”
The group stood outside for at least two hours while the church youth group offered bottled water and freeze pops. Layla said she was proud of her community for showing their support.
“I feel pretty accomplished,” she said. “All these little boys and girls and moms and dads and uncles and aunts are out here protesting today when they could literally be doing anything else. It makes me happy that they’re out here today.”