Three strangers gather at downtown Lafayette corner to peacefully protest racial injustice

Matthew Korey, Michelle Richardson Stokes and Christian Carrera were all strangers before deciding to protest together peacefully at the corner of 3rd and Columbia Streets on Wednesday.

Posted: Jun 3, 2020 11:33 PM
Updated: Jun 3, 2020 11:52 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Ever since Sunday's big protest, people have still felt the need to go down to the county courthouse and voice their concerns. Protesters have come and go from the downtown since Sunday night.

Lafayette resident Matthew Korey started standing at the corner of 3rd and Columbia Street around noon on Wednesday. He stayed there for hours by himself, holding a sign saying "stop defending police brutality."

"I just really felt the need to do something," he said. "I've been going to the other protests this week and after everything that happened yesterday, especially in Washington DC, I just really felt the need to be out here and let people know what happened."

Tensions have continued to grow in Washington D.C. as protesters gather outside the White House. U.S Park Police used force to take back Lafayette Square Park from protesters on Monday as President Trump went to St. John's Church for a PR campaign. Governor Ron DeSantis ordered 500 national guard troops to the D.C. area.

Korey said he had some negative things yelled at him throughout the day. He said he thinks it's difficult to change people's minds that are already made up.

As Korey stood on the corner in peaceful protest, he soon got company. His tenacity inspired others to join him. Michelle Richardson Stokes works at the Tippecanoe County Building.

"I was on my lunch break and I saw this young man standing out here and I had my car in the sign from Sunday. I said when I get off work, I'm going to go out here and stand with this young man," said Richardson Stokes. "We have to fight the cause together and that's what we're doing."

And soon after, Christian Carrera, another Lafayette resident, joined Korey and Richardson Stokes with his guitar. These three were complete strangers, but they had one thing that bound them all together.

"We're all humans, and we're all beautiful," said Carrera, who wasn't able to go to Sunday's big protest. "I got off work and when I saw him I was like, yeah bro. When I got home I was like, I have to help him."

He sang lyrics like "let her breath, let him breath", "we want peace" and "this is for humanity."

Richardson Stokes, a black woman who has lived in Lafayette for 41 years, said she has experienced racism in this community.

"You will experience it and it is going to go on, racism is not going to die but we will have to put a cap on it," she said with conviction.

She said unity is important for the end goal she would like to see happen.

"Reform, training police officers a whole different way," she said. "Because I never want to know how George Floyd's mother feels, I never want to know how Tamir Rice's mother feels. I don't want to know how Trayvon Martin's mother feels, I don't want to know that."

Korey said he was very happy for the company and the support of his new and unexpected friends.

"I think this is a nationwide movement going on that's really motivating people and I was just happy to be a part of it," he said.

"Let us shed all the hate from the world and become one humanity," said Carrera. "Let us breath."

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