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Local activists are organizing a demonstration to protest racism and police violence in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

The event, titled “SayTheirNames: Anti-Racist Solidarity Demonstration” is scheduled to take place Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Bogert Park. The organizers are working with the Montana State University Black Student Union and the Montana Racial Equity Project.

According to a Facebook post about the event, participants will march through downtown Bozeman to the courthouse. They are encouraged to wear masks.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died Monday in Minneapolis after a white police officer placed him in a knee-to-neck chokehold. The officer, 44-year-old Derek Chauvin, Friday was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.

“Folks need a way to express themselves,” said Meshayla Cox, of the Montana Racial Equity Project. “It is very important right now to show power in numbers.”

Cox said she would not be attending the demonstration, as she was still dealing with watching Floyd die on a video that has gone viral. She said that when she saw the video of Floyd’s last moments, she envisioned her father and brother in his place.

In a post on the Montana Racial Equity Project website, Cox wrote, “Here we are over 100 years later and we are participating in a sick sort of voyeurism, posting videos and photos of dead and dying black people in the name of activism and awareness.”

However, Cox said she is happy to work in an organization that allows her to manage her grief.

She and others at the MREP and BSU have been consulting with march organizers to create a meaningful and productive demonstration on Sunday.

“We’re trying to prevent this from happening again, but we’re not ignorant to the fact that it will,” she said.

Benjamin Finegan, who started working with the MREP this April, said he hopes the demonstration will educate the public about police violence and the disproportionate number of deaths related to COVID-19 among black Americans and other minorities.

“It [the demonstration] needs to be more than a superficial action of guilt,” Finegan said. “Collectively, a lot of us needed time to grieve and to check in on one another.”

Finegan said he’s hopeful at least 100 people will show up, as around 500 people have already shown interest in attending the event on Facebook.

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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