By Breina Schain
On a beautiful spring day last Sunday (June 7th), several of the Cheshire Democratic Town Committee members were present to accompany the peaceful and successful Protest March organized by the Cheshire High School students. It appeared that at least five hundred people or more were gathered. Noticeably, there was a large police presence, many being young policewomen and policemen on bicycles. I mentioned to one of them that I thought their entire police force was there and they smiled and agreed. All the side streets were appropriately blocked off with ropes and patrols at each corner.
We were so enthused and impressed to meet candidate E.J. Maher running against Representative Lezlye Zupkus for the 89th District. We all had a great opportunity to speak to him and get to know one another. He is an avid young volunteer for many good causes, a father of three daughters, a fire-fighter, youth leader, Board of Education member and the list of accolades continues. (I urge you to read the bio previously sent out by Dan Nowak). He mentioned that he has a farm but used to live in New Haven. Some of us offered to support him against Zupkus, including myself and I said he could gather people at my house if needed. He has some good ideas for his Treasurer to include his father who is an accountant.
After we initially gathered at Bartlem Park to muster our group with spirited calls by the Cheshire High School protest organizers, we proceeded to chant and march to the Town Hall where there were a few speeches from guests and students that commenced after everyone knelt on one knee for an extended period of silence. The speeches included an elderly black gentleman sharing the history of racism, and an emotional white woman, equally passionate. Andrew Jones, a friend of some Cheshire students, recited a provocative poem entitled "The Crying" that he was inspired to write in the middle of the night. It was all so appropriate and meaningful.
Most everyone wore masks and respected social distancing with one exception of a family of four protestors, who I alerted the police about. However, after a short while of combative yelling at the speaker with adverse language, they left. Everything else was peaceful and well organized. The numerous signs were well composed with one that said, "If you don't respect our existence, there may be resistance".
I especially wanted to be present to support the students and share my outrage at the brutal killing of George Floyd. Racism and inequality have NO place in society, where respect, dignity and compassion should prevail. This protest march was an opportunity for us to unite and express our feelings in our home town. Thanks so much to our wonderful high school students and kudos to you all!!!