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Over several days, in the thick of the Missouri heat, nine reporters went into ongoing protests in Kansas City with one question: Why are you out here?
Katie Moore, a reporter covering breaking news and crime, found two threads in the 43 responses she and her colleagues collected.
“One of them was people were feeling very hopeful and this was going to bring change,” she said, “and the other side of that is that people were tired.”
Faces of Protest: These are the people demonstrating against police brutality in KC published in The Kansas City Star on June 5.
Around the same time, local journalists around the country were doing the same thing as journalists in Kansas City — listening. Right now there’s a swell of voices on the streets in big and small places. It was sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. But it was also sparked by so much more.
Here’s a look at how other newsrooms around the country are telling the story of protesters and why they’re demanding change.
“I feel uncomfortable every single day,” Ny Williams, 17, told The (Raleigh, North Carolina) News & Observer in this collection. “I feel uncomfortable walking past police officers, I feel uncomfortable when I’m walking on the sidewalk and white people won’t move to let me walk. I want you to feel uncomfortable, I want you to feel how I feel.”
“I feel like there are a lot of odds against me,” Abdullah Akl told Bklyner, who spent the day with him. “I’m trying to get ahead or at least equal to where a lot of people are.”
“We cannot continue to lock horns with the folks we are asking for justice from,” Cheyenne Bryant told the Los Angeles Times in this collection. “At some point, we have to lock hands and have to sit at the table and have a conversation.”
“I just want to live how White people live, and I’m not scared to say that,” Al Rangel told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in this collection. “White people don’t have to go the store and be looked at by security cameras, by security officers. I’m sick and tired of that. I just want to be treated equally.”
“The thing White people don’t understand is that Black people aren’t scared of you, you’re scared of Black people,” Cassie Campbell told The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina, in this collection. “We have to tear down that wall.”
“This is Asheville, North Carolina,” Michael Hayes told the Wilmington, North Carolina-based Star-News, in this collection. “The same thing that’s happened to George Floyd has happened here, a lot of times. So seeing it sparked something in us.”
“Sometimes my blackness is seen as a weapon,” Relious Johnson told Texas Standard, a daily news magazine in Austin, in this collection.
“What if this was someone I cared about, what if it was someone in my family or a friend who had been killed by a police officer like that?” Brandon Rooney told al.com in Alabama in this collection. “I normally stay out of politics, but this was hard to ignore. I thought to myself ‘I have to do something, I must do something.’”
“Growing up mixed it’s really hard to fit in,” Jeanette Vaughn told WETM in Elmira, New York, in this collection. “I’ve always been too dark to be White, too White to be Black. A lot of people don’t think that there’s any racism here in Corning. I myself have experienced racism multiple times in my life.”
“I want to live long enough to graduate, have a family and contribute to my community,” Devon Mims told the Tampa Bay Times in this collection. “I want to see a generation of Black children not have to be taught that silence, assimilation and emotional withdrawal are their best means of survival.”
“I joined the protests because it’s critical that I give my support and love to the Black community,” a protester told The Sacramento Bee in this collection. “As an ally, my job becomes most important in times like this. I carry a lot of energy and vibes with me, and I wanted to be sure to bring my positive, assuring energy to protesters.”
“I participated peacefully in yesterday’s march from Westlake to the courthouse,” a protester named Elisha told The Seattle Times in this collection. “I marched because I wanted my body to be counted in the masses rising up to call for change. We want to take back the flag, take back our democracy. What’s more patriotic? Being loyal to an unequal status quo led by someone who seeks division, or believing we can do better? I believe in our country. We can do better.”
Aaliyah Whiteman, a 12-year-old, told the Missoulian in Missoula, Montana, in this collection about why she was at a protest: “To use our voices — most Native American women, they can’t use their voice … I think all the colors need to rise up and use their voices, especially for this type of situation.”
“Personally it’s not my suffering. It’s not my pain,” Paul Hendricks told the Casper (Wyoming) Star-Tribune in this collection. “But I think it’s my fight, because we have to act as a human race. As one.”
“I think this is a call to action for local and national leaders,” Katrina Ruiz told CalMatters in California in this collection, “because politics has to happen at home.”
Also, check out these photo essays from WHYY in Philadelphia and LAist in Los Angeles. See young people marching for justice for Ahmaud Arbery from Scalawag in Durham, North Carolina. And several newsrooms are focusing on local cases of Black men who were killed by police, including the Long Beach Post and Fred Taft, and Ryan Stokes, Terrance Bridges, Cameron Lamb and Donnie Sanders in The Kansas City Star. And here’s The Washington Post’s collection of protester stories.
How is your newsroom telling the story of protesters?
Kristen Hare covers the business and people of local news for Poynter.org and is the editor of Locally. You can subscribe to her weekly newsletter here. Kristen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @kristenhare.