Powell’s Peaceful BLM Protest Exemplifies the Necessity of Unity in Community

McKenna Christy

“If in a subdivision of homes, one house is on fire, and people show up to provide assistance, they do not spray water on the other houses, they hose down the house that is on fire because it needs the most attention and the most care. All the houses matter, of course, but one is burning down. And you may say, my house has dry rot isn’t that important? Of course it is, but it is not as immediate as the house that’s burning. And you may say, why do I have to put out the fire? Why can’t the owner of that house do it themself? And to that I say, the owner died in the fire.”

Janae McKenzie, a Powell resident of six years and Olentangy Liberty High school graduate, shared this powerful metaphor in front of what seemed to be more than 500 citizens all gathered in front of the Powell Police Department on Tuesday to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd. The strength and truth in McKenzie’s speech erupted applause from the crowd all throughout, and more importantly, certainly awakened everyone’s perspective to the purpose behind the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Abby Mittendorf

Prior to the peaceful protest taking place, there was a divide on the Powell Bubble Facebook group, where the idea of a peaceful protest originated. There were two schools of thought: 1. Those in support of it occurring, and 2. Residents who expressed their concerns of a violent outbreak as seen in other protests across the nation. However, the turnout proved that the number of people actively supporting justice and the Black Lives Matter movement outweighs the citizens who refuse to take any stand at all.

And in the context of taking a stand, the rest of this article will be dedicated to highlighting some of the messages spoken by those who graciously shared their own experiences and perspectives in front of the Powell community. 

Abby Mittendorf

“The sad truth ladies and gentlemen is that probably in about 12-14 days, we are not going to be saturated with the name George Floyd from every angle of the news media. That will ultimately diminish. Your fire cannot! Your passion, your enthusiasm, and your drive to see a change has to match everyday moving forward with what it does right here today holding up your great signs in this march. They can ignore the protests, they cannot ignore the vote-” Adam Chaudry, Powell resident and defense attorney. 

Abby Mittendorf

“…there are forces ladies and gentlemen, that are trying to divide us, knowing that they can conquer it. But united, we, together we stand, we can overcome any negatives that they try to pull us apart. The opposite of divide and conquer, is to unite and build-” Jimmy Mendenhall, Powell resident of ten years. 

Abby Mittendorf

“To have my father be somebody that had a cross burned in his front yard, it has broken my heart to see that he has not changed his views and his opinions about this country that he is still hurting he is still grieving and I sadly have to be instilled in the position to have to make a stand that he also did back when he was my age-” Drew Collins, Olentangy Liberty High school graduate and Powell resident of 15 years. 

Abby Mittendorf

“I will remind you that your silence makes you complicit and your refusal to help puts no further good back into the world…Reparations begin when you march, when you donate, when you reach out to your elected officials, and when you vote. When you change your heart and change your mind to actively support and empathize and uplift black people-” Janae McKenzie.

While protesting and making changes in your own life- whether that be through education or looking into the eyes of personal prejudice/ privilege- listening to Black Americans must also be done everyday, listening to their pain and demands from a country in which “race pervades every institution, every interaction in both ways subtle and obvious,” as McKenzie stated. And the Powell protest revolved around listening, which made it truly compelling in itself.

“We have to work together, we have the voice, [and] we need to let that voice be heard-” Elton Sargent, Co-owner of Prohibition Gastro Lounge and one of the lead organizers of the protest. Jessica Greenwald, an Olentangy Liberty High school graduate, was the main coordinator.