SHERIDAN — About 500 turned out for the Black Lives Matter Solidarity Peaceful Protest Friday evening, which began at the Sheridan County Fulmer Public Library and proceeded down Main Street to the Sheridan County Courthouse, before returning to the library.
The procession began shortly after 6 p.m. and dissipated by 7:30 p.m. As the group prepared to depart, co-organizer Jess Harrelson cautioned the crowd not to engage with anyone seeking to incite disruption.
“As a white ally, do not engage,” Harrelson said. “Do not be violent. Use your minds, be peaceful, OK?”
The procession remained entirely peaceful, despite some provocation from a few dozen counter-protestors across the street and passersby.
Sheridan Police Department officers on foot, bicycle and in patrol cars monitored the demonstration in its entirety. SPD Lt. Travis Koltiska said prior to the demonstration, officers would be stationed “to not only prevent any violence or property destruction from occurring, but also to ensure the rights of the demonstrators to peacefully assemble are protected.”
Some community members spoke to their experiences living in Sheridan as a black person, including Derrick Linzy, who spoke about overcoming fear and his journey living in different U.S. cities.
Linzy said as he has discovered his love for Wyoming, he hopes the state, nation and world can come to realize the value of people’s internal traits, not the color of their skin — to which the crowd responded, “we love you.”
Marchers of all generations carried signs and chanted “Say their names,” “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”
Several demonstrators and co-organizer Jamie Schlegel said they did not expect to see so many turn out in Sheridan but were pleasantly surprised to see such support.