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Ohio Protestors Among Those Headed To D.C. March Against Police Violence


Thousands of people from around the country are heading to Washington, D.C., to take part in a demonstration tomorrow against police violence. The families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin are among those who will attend the Justice For All March, so is the family of John Crawford III. Crawford was killed by police in August while in an Ohio Walmart. Protests against that shooting have been small but growing. And a group from Southwest Ohio is leaving for D.C. tonight. Lewis Wallace of member station WYSO met two mothers and their teenage daughters who are making the trip.

LEWIS WALLACE, BYLINE: I'm crammed into a booth at a restaurant in downtown Dayton with a group of protesters. Iris Blanchard is 44, a college counselor, and she says the first time she got involved in a protest, she was in high school. Her school wanted to change the name Black History Month to Brotherhood Month.

IRIS BLANCHARD: They was trying to minimize, you know, our accomplishments as African-Americans by calling it brotherhood, so I protested, and that was - I was about 16, 17 years old at the time.

WALLACE: Since then, she's had kids, a career. And she says she's disappointed with what hasn't changed.

I. BLANCHARD: There's no way I would have envisioned, going on 2015, that we'll be at this moment, at this time, still protesting the same issues.

WALLACE: Her 21-year-old daughter, Nia Blanchard, says her Facebook and Instagram feeds are full of posts about issues with black teens and police.

NIA BLANCHARD: This situation that happened in Ferguson is everywhere. Everybody's talking about just - not just in Ferguson, everybody who's going through this. The word gets spread.

WALLACE: And that makes many people feel like things are escalating. Nia's teenage sister, Aneesa, says she's heading to the D.C. protests with a sense of responsibility, not only to her peers but to her parent's generation.

ANEESA: We're up next. Like, we have to take on what our parents do and do it better.

WALLACE: We're about 20 miles away in Yellow Springs - a small, progressive college town. Gail Cyan and her family are sitting on the couch in their small ranch house talking about the last protest in Dayton when a police officer began to yell at the crowd. Cyan says it scared her.

GAIL CYAN: For me to feel that as a white woman, I can't imagine what it feels like to be a person of color and to know that it could so quickly escalate beyond just yelling at your face - you know?

WALLACE: Cyan and her partner have two daughters - one white and one black. Their 17-year-old daughter, Sophie Davidson, says she worries about her black friends and her sister being targeted by police.

SOPHIE DAVIDSON: Seeing these people and knowing these people who are great people - seeing them being discriminated and prejudiced against, it hurts.

WALLACE: We're just a few miles from where John Crawford was killed by police last August while shopping at a Walmart. Police say they thought he had a gun. It turned out to be a BB gun sold in the store. In September, a grand jury decided not to indict the police officers, and there are demonstrations every week. Sophie Davidson is determined to get more of her friends involved.

SOPHIE: I hope this doesn't die out until something happens. I hope that later on in my life I can look back and say, you know, oh, well, that's how it was.

WALLACE: At least 50 people are traveling on a bus from the Dayton area to D.C. tonight. John Crawford's mother is already there. For NPR News, I'm Lewis Wallace in Yellow Springs. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.