A rally planned Saturday afternoon in Effingham amounts to a “teach-in” on police brutality and racism.

The Effingham Social Justice Group will show support for peaceful protests on the killing of George Floyd by police last week in Minneapolis. They will have speakers, a respectful march and share information to raise awareness of what people of color are facing in many American cities.

“What we’re trying to do is make this a hangout without any chanting,” said Anna Habing, a 2017 Effingham High School graduate and local musician. “A group of us met and decided to do something like this in Effingham and put on a march. This will show people are not afraid to speak up on racism and police brutality that is happening outside of Effingham. And we’re not trying to put down local police officers, either.”

Over the past week across the country, many demonstrations regarding Floyd’s death have turned violent. There has also been looting and burning of buildings by groups not necessarily associated with the lawful protests. Protesters and police officers have been injured, and businesses destroyed.

The rally on Saturday will be inspired by local residents wanting to express themselves on the Floyd killing and other needless deaths of people of color during encounters with law enforcement. Young people from the community will have an active part in the event, which starts at 1 p.m. on the old Effingham Courthouse Square. It will last less than two hours with presentations by Matthew Robinson and Natalee Swafford, both 2019 EHS graduates. Taylor Steele will playing songs as well.

The rally will include a march through downtown Effingham, Habing said. She explained that local police have been contacted about the rally and march. Masks to guard against coronavirus infection will be provide to anyone asking for one.

“We’ve been talking to the police chief about what we plan to do. We’re offered a schedule and have rules we will follow so officers know what to expect,” Harding said.

The Social Justice Group realizes not all the public feedback on their event will be positive. They will show respect and ask for respect for the right to free speech and peaceful assembly. The Group is committed to making both their rally and procession, she said.

(This article was written by Herb Meeker, Effingham County Board Public Information Officer. Contact him at (217) 540-8654 or hmeeker@co.effingham.il.us)