Listening To The Voices Of Black Wyomingites
It's been three weeks since George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes. Floyd's killing has sparked unrest across America, including in parts of Wyoming that aren't used to seeing protests. From Laramie and Casper to Gillette, Riverton, and even small towns like Dubois and Pinedale, people in our state are speaking out against racism and police violence against Black people. At many of these vigils, marches and demonstrations, Black Wyomingites are leading the way.
"There's been a lot of silence in Wyoming surrounding the death of George Floyd. And for me as a Black individual, a Black soul, I feel real discomfort with it ... I also have some mixed feelings about this space, and just the fact that we are surrounded by white supremacy, and folks who know who I am and see me, may know where I live, may know where I work. That terrifies me, to be at an event like this and not know who's going to continue to show up." -Forrest Parks at a vigil in Riverton
"I really want you to think about your grandparents and your parents and your uncles and your aunts who don't want to be here. Who don't have to think about anything like police violence because when they break the law, they get a pass. Every day I have to think about my loved ones, my little brother, if he'll make it past the age of 10, 12, 13, 14, because of the way he looks and because of the way we continue to allow this world to disrespect Black people." - Demonstrator in Riverton
"Why is it that it takes a death for us to stand up? That's outrageous. And all the protests that are happening, you see police officers that are using tear gas and rubber bullets bigger than my hand, that's outrageous. George Floyd has a daughter. Her name is Gianna. She will never get to see her father ever again. That's outrageous. We're taking fathers away from children. We're taking children away from their mothers. That's outrageous. If you're not angry, you're not paying attention." - Meeshla Bovee at a demonstration in Casper
"This is definitely something I want to stand for, being that I'm mixed, too, I'm Native and I'm Black. So any way I can, especially it being in my own town … I have a couple of people who I know in my social group who think that this is not the way to go. So I'm glad to see that people my age can come around to Black Lives Matter issues." - Akai Greybull at a demonstration in Lander
"I could be George Floyd. I've been in situations like that because I'm Black, because someone fears, because I'm stereotyped as a hoodlum or a thug. When I sat there and watched the video of George Floyd, that hurt me. Because what are they going to tell my son when his dad doesn't come home? If you sit back and do nothing, you're no better than the person kneeling on his neck." - Demonstrator in Lander
"The thing about working on the job and being treated racist, you don't have nobody to back you up. They see it, they hear it, but they're too scared to back you up. This is why I came out. These beautiful people are speaking up." -James Harry at a march in Laramie
Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Savannah Maher, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Savannah is a Report For America corps member.