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Peoples Defense supplies Mizzou Black Student Athletes Association march in Columbia, MO - NewViewNews
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Peoples Defense supplies Mizzou Black Student Athletes Association march in Columbia, MO

HarshawnRatanpal · social issues · news · 10/03/2020

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Local social justice group “Peoples Defense” supplied protestors with cold water bottles, hand sanitizer and snacks as they marched with the Mizzou Black Student Athletes Association earl this month. Promoting “unity against the injustices which continue in this nation” was the BSAA’s  goal of the Sept. 2 protest1. 

Peoples Defense, which formed in response to the May 25 killing of George Floyd and has organized their own peaceful protests nearly every day since, stationed themselves near Memorial Stadium’s entrance and handed water and sanitizer to protestors, organizers  and reporters alike in the last stretch of their nearly one mile march from the Columns before joining the crowd to listen to BSAA leadership speak. 

Catherine Armbrust is the supply coordinator for the group and routinely manages providing protestors with water, hand sanitizer and masks. She passed out supplies at last week's march and initiated the collaboration between Peoples Defense and the BSAA.

“When we learned that the athletes were going to have this march, we decided that we wanted to join them ... because part of [Peoples Defense’s] manifesto is about supporting the community,” she said. “So, I got in contact with one of the organizers of the event and just asked if they needed help [with supplies], and they did.”

President of Peoples Defense Roy Lovelady started the group to bring attention to injustice. After the killing of George Floyd, the business owner felt personally motivated to organize and raise awareness on social justice issues as he realized that he, as a Black man,  “could be next.”

In addition to organizing marches seven days a week, Lovelady and his organization have pursued other avenues to combat social injustice and better their community, including having a presence at every city council meeting since Floyd’s death, attending meetings of the Citizens Police Review Board and hosting a back-to-school supply drive last month for families who may be struggling.              

Lovelady finds it important to use his experience as a social justice advocate to elevate and support the voices of others in the community trying to be heard.

“When [the BSAA] was having their march, we wanted to be present and help [with supplies] because we already know what [marching] is like [and] we’re all fighting for the same thing,” Lovelady said. “We were chanting with them. There’s strength in numbers … It was a thank you more than anything else, for standing up for us.”

A presidential appreciation from the Peoples Defense was not unreciprocated from the student organizers.

“I appreciate them showing up and passing out water bottles, that was major,” president of the BSAA Cason Suggs said. “I took one, and I used it for my speech.”

Peoples Defense conducted their 100th night of advocacy last Monday, continuing their daily tradition. While the group has both short-term and long-goals in mind - such as equipping students with what they need for the upcoming school year and raising awareness of social injustices - Lovelady said that the work will never be done and that the group does not fight for any particular cause or “just Black rights,” but rather, “all rights,” and will continue to do so for the indefinite future. 

“If I see a problem,” Lovelady said, “isn’t it my responsibility to try and do something to change it?”

Sources

1: https://www.themaneater.com/stories/news/updated:-hundreds-of-mu-students-march-in-solidarity-with-mizzou-black-student-athlete-association

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