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Tallmadge teens protest, call for change

Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-09 19:30:53-04

TALLMADGE, Ohio — As George Floyd's funeral was taking place in Texas, a small protest and a call for action was taking place in a Summit County suburb.

It was organized by white teenagers in Tallmadge who wanted to to stress that black lives matter.

About 20 protesters held up signs and spread out around the Tallmadge circle Tuesday afternoon. Many drivers honked their horns in support and the kids cheered back.

"I have the privilege to stay home and just not care, just ignore this whole thing. But I'm out here protesting instead because I think it's the right thing to do," said 14-year-old Natalie Tran.

Sam Borrell, 18, helped organize the demonstration in a town that has an African American population of 5%.

"It's a predominately white town. I think people need to hear the message," Borrell said. "It just felt important. There hasn't been any demonstrations in Tallmadge in the last two weeks. It seemed important that someone do it."

Borrell was involved in a scary incident while taking part in a larger protest two weeks ago in Akron.

A man was hit by a pickup truck while trying to block traffic at Main and Market streets. Police investigated the incident and no charges were filed.

"It was terrifying. It was scary. I couldn't believe that it was happening to me of all people," Borrell said.

The teens stressed they want to be part of the change, but change can be a major struggle, and that was evident by what one driver shouted as News 5 was interviewed Tran.

A female driver slowed down and yelled, "White lives matter, not black!"

The hateful comment only bolstered the teen's desire to speak out.

"It just makes me want to protest more, to be honest. It makes me want to get them more educated, show them what reality is."

Even though the turnout on a very hot day was small, Borrell hopes the message from teens and young adults-- part of Generation Z-- leaves a lasting impression.

"I just want people to realize it's time for change. Now is the time."