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Residents protest and take a stand for justice in Avon – The Collinsville Press
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Residents protest and take a stand for justice in Avon

AVON, June 4, 2020 – Several hundred local residents stood along a quarter mile stretch of Route 44 on Thursday evening protesting the death a week ago of George Floyd in Minnesota at the hands of the police and calling for justice for all citizens of all races.

Stand for Black Justice was held on the front lawn of the Avon Congregational Church at the corner of Route 44 and Route 10 but before speakers had their chance to talk, residents stood along Route 44 from the church up to the Town Green and vehicles passed by and honked their horns in support of the protesters.

“This is about equality for all,” Chris Solimene, pastor of Avon Congregational Church. “It is your chance to (make change). In a hurting world, will you be that change?

Representative Tammy Exum, who represents Avon, Farmington and West Hartford in the 19th District of the Connecticut House of Representatives spoke. She urged the protesters to fight systemic racism and learn what they can do to support men and women of all races.

Exum said she has received dozens of texts and calls from friends and constituents asking what they can do to help. She urged people to get educated and recommended the 1619 series recently produced by the New York Times about slavery in this nation.

“Enough is enough,” she said. “Stand up and be heard.”

She also had the somber task of reading a list of men and women who have recently died at the hands of police across our nation for just being black.

Protesters take a knee as they stand along Route 44 during Thursday night’s Stand for Black Justice protest in Avon. More photos from the rally. 

Deacon Art Miller from St. Mary’s in Simsbury urged the protestors to “vote out hatred. Vote. Vote. Vote.”

Avon’s Eleni Kavros DeGraw, the recently-nominated Democratic candidate for the Connecticut House of Representative seat in the 17th District (Avon and Canton), said,” Racism is our problem to solve (referring to white people). We need your outrage. We need your tears – but not the tears that don’t lead to action.”

DeGraw also urged protesters to vote and to prepare for November. If there is a resurgence of the coronavirus, you may need to vote by absentee ballot, she said. Request your ballot, get those stamps, and vote, she urged.

The Reverend George Harris from the First Church of Christ in Simsbury spoke along with Jim Reed, a member of the Avon Congregational Church.

“I want it known that people of every faith stood up for justice,” Reed said. “Don’t be despondent. Don’t give up. I can see in your bright shining faces – change.”

Protesters stand along Route 44 in Avon during Thursday night’s Stand for Black Justice protest. More photos from the rally. 

It was a peaceful protest and it was complete in about two hours.

Photos from the protest.

Jim Reed addresses a protest rally on the front lawn of the Avon Congregational Church on Thursday night. More photos from the rally. 

Protesters listen to speeches in Thursday’s Stand for Black Justice rally in Avon. More photos from the rally. 

A few hundred protesters stand on the lawn of the Avon Congregational Church during Thursday’s Stand for Black Justice protest in Avon. More photos from the rally. 

Videos from Thursday night’s protests in Avon.

Protesters walk down the street to her the speaking portion of the rally.

State Representative Tammy Exum speaks at the protest.

Protesters chant as vehicles passing by honk their horns in support.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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