1/2/19 Downtown Lafayette Stock Images, Tippecanoe Courthouse

A Lafayette resident is calling for members of the community to march around the courthouse this Sunday at 8 p.m. to protest recent acts of injustice against black individuals across the United States, most prominently the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“8pm, the time the incident started,” a Facebook post by Kaja Leshae reads, “meet at the courthouse … wearing bracelets, something saying ‘I can’t breathe.’” 

Leshae said while watching bystander videos of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, she “heard (Floyd) cry out for his momma,” and it broke her heart. Chauvin has since been fired and today was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.

She said that as a black mother, mentor and caretaker, she felt it was her duty to speak up against these injustices. This march is her way to say something peacefully, she said.

Leshae wants to be clear this is a peaceful protest. It’s not a riot, unlike what’s happening in Minneapolis, she said.  

“The focus is not on destruction,” she explained, “but creation, creation of unity.”

During a press conference today, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb addressed protests likely to occur in the state. He said state officials are debating how to calm the waters and restore peace, and that violence must be avoided to properly honor the lives lost.

“Injuring the innocent in a response to an injustice is counterproductive," Holcomb said. "I’m looking and appealing to people to find it in the goodness of their heart to be part of the solution here, and not part of the problem. 

“And there will be some professional protestors. I very much respect our First Amendment to assemble and to speak and to be heard and to voice your own opinion. And we’ll continue to be respectful on that front. But I ask you to do it peacefully; it will be heard.”

The Lafayette march plans to comply with the governor's requests, but there are still precautions participants should take. 

Leshae strongly encourages people to wear face masks and said “we will try to space out as much as possible” during the march to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

She also said she spoke with local law enforcement today, who expressed understanding but raised concern about possible counter-protests. Law enforcement officials referenced Ku Klux Klan fliers recently distributed in Greater Lafayette as cause for concern. 

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