ASHLAND -- Keon Singleton has watched for more than a week as protests unfolded across the United States after the death of George Floyd, a black man killed on Memorial Day by Minneapolis police.
The Ashland resident saw protests spring up in nearby Mansfield and Mount Vernon, in larger Ohio cities like Cleveland and Columbus and in his hometown of Baltimore, Md.
He waited to see if someone would lead a protest in Ashland, too.
On Thursday, Singleton hadn’t seen anyone else organizing a local protest, so he took up the cause alone.
At 11 a.m., the Ashland University student and father of two young boys protested alone while jogging along Main Street.
He paced up and down Main Street, hoisting a sign reading, “If you were my color would you want to raise kids in this system we live in today. Didn’t think so. Black Lives Matter.” He shouted his message to those who would listen.
At 1 p.m., three others joined him. It began to pour down rain, but they continued marching for at least another hour.
Singleton intends to continue the peaceful protests daily at 1 p.m. along Main Street “until we receive justice.” He invites those who are passionate about pursuing justice against police brutality and fighting against racism to join him in the displays.
“It won’t take just me and a few people. It will take a lot of white people to make this change,” Singleton said.
All Minneapolis officers involved in Floyd's death have been fired and charged in the killing. Derek Chauvin, 46, is charged with second-degree murder.
The other three -- J. Alexander Kueng, 26, Thomas Lane, 37, and Tou Thao -- 34, are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Singleton said he sees justice as equity, not equality. He wants to see all police officers who have ever taken advantage of their power to harm or kill a black man charged, arrested and convicted, and he wants racism to stop.
It needs to stop, he continued. For himself. For his kids. For every black person.
Singleton said his protests would be peaceful, but he understands why looting is happening elsewhere.
“There will be no looting. There will be peaceful protesting,” he said. “Even though looting shouldn’t even matter, because a black life was taken.
“That’s why people were looting because they felt like white businesses didn’t matter. They have got insurance and can basically rebuild anytime they want. That business can be rebuilt. A black life cannot be, you know, reestablished.”
He’s frustrated to see people more upset by the looting in other communities than the death of another black man.
“Black people built this country from the ground up, so white people can make money on this earth, all the way until the earth is over with. So us black people feel like we’re entitled to some of their businesses, and we could get revenge, but we just want peace,” Singleton said. “That’s all we want. That’s all we’ve ever wanted.”
Among the small group who joined Singleton Thursday was Ashland resident Kaela Walter. When she spotted Singleton protesting alone, she adamantly felt she should join.
“Black lives matter, and I’m not going to stand by and watch him be out here by himself when there is a community of people who should be rallying behind him,” she said. “We don’t let people stand alone.”