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UC, OSU Students Lead Day 6 Of Peaceful Protests

george floyd protest
Ronny Salerno
/
WVXU
Demonstrators march through Uptown. Chants of "Whose streets? Our streets."

UC and Ohio State students led a protest and march Wednesday around UC's campus. They're calling for police reforms and systemic changes in the way African Americans and other people of color are treated by the justice system and society.

Organizer Amna Rustom of Milford attends Ohio State University and explained what she'd like to see come of the protests.

"I think it's a commitment, a verbal commitment from our leadership and from our police force to say not only that 'We hear you,' but 'We're going to change for you,' " Rustom says. "Everyone wants to say 'We stand for you, We hear you,' but I want to see some action items. What are you going to do with the police force? Are you going to retrain them? Are you going to do implicit bias training? What next steps are you going to take?"

george floyd protests
Credit Ronny Salerno / WVXU
Amna Rustom speaks to reporters.

The crowd listened to several speakers before marching energetically around the perimeter of UC's campus chanting against violence and speaking the names of people who have died at the hands of police like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Esther Steward works as an LPN at a nearby healthcare facility and came on her lunch break. This was the first protest she was able to make and she wanted to show her support.

"I'm so, so energized and so hopeful of my future with all the young people out here," says Steward, who is African American. "Forty years ago, this was me. Now I'm glad to see that they're here and they're speaking up. And the more and more and more people who don't look like me speak up, then they realize this is not just a black and white issue, this is an American issue."

Steward notes the coronavirus pandemic continues and people should still be taking precautions. She made sure to maintain physical distance and stressed the importance of handwashing and hygiene while protesting.

george floyd protest
Credit Ronny Salerno / WVXU
Organizers ask demonstrators to take two steps away from each other and mind social distancing.

Around 2:30 p.m., the crowd paused to announce the breaking news that Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin had his charges elevated to second degree murder. Marchers erupted.

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As the march turned back onto Clifton Avenue, Melinda Houston of Mt. Healthy cheered the crowd on as they passed by her. She called a friend and held up her phone so they could hear the chanting.

"What happened (to George Floyd) really did sting me, it hurt me deeply to the core," she told WVXU. "It wasn't just because he was black it was because he was human. It doesn't matter who it is. To me, it's wrong."

She's hopeful this will be the moment in time that real change occurs.

Mayor John Cranley extended a curfew through next Monday but pushed the time back from 8 to 11 p.m. Protests Tuesday night were peaceful.

Protestors also gathered in downtown Cincinnati Wednesday. Just before 5 p.m., a person driving a black BMW drove into the crowd of demonstrators outside City Hall. There were no immediate reports of injuries. Witnesses say the car, described as having Kentucky tags, pushed people back before reversing and speeding off. Police gave chase, but later tweeted they didn't believe the incident to be intentional.