Families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake rally in Grant Park, urge voters to hit polls

A group of about 100 people — family members, friends and supporters of those killed or injured by police officers — gathered for two hours near Jackson and Columbus drives in Grant Park to reaffirm their calls for justice and to use their relatives’ stories as catalysts for social change.

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Flanked by family members and supporters, Jacob Blake Sr. speaks during a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Blake Sr.’s son, Jacob Blake Jr., 29, was shot and seriously wounded by a Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23.

Flanked by family members and supporters, Jacob Blake Sr. speaks during a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Blake Sr.’s son, Jacob Blake Jr., 29, was shot and seriously wounded by a Kenosha police officer on Aug. 23.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

With their relatives’ names now etched in the collective consciousness, the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Jacob Blake and others killed or wounded by police officers gathered in Grant Park Thursday to urge voters to cast their ballots on Election Day next week.

The group of about 100 people — family members, friends and supporters — gathered for two hours near Jackson and Columbus drives to reaffirm their calls for justice and to use their relatives’ stories as catalysts for social change.

Stephanie Baskin, an aunt to Taylor, the woman shot and killed by police in Louisville, Kentucky said her family stands in solidarity with the families of Blake, Floyd and others, but conceded that there were others killed by police who she couldn’t remember.

“The fact that there are too many to remember is the reason why we all have to get out and vote, because what we’re finding more and more every day is that they have these laws designed to continue to keep their knee on our neck, to continue to hold us back, to continue to keep us in a place that they thought that we were going to stay in,” Baskin said.

“But we’re not,” she added. “We’re going to us our voices at the polls. We urge you all to use your voices at the polls because that’s the only way that we can change and reach the goals that we all are here, united, to reach.”

Brandon Williams, a nephew of George Floyd, who was killed by a Minneapolis police officer encouraged voters to not just focus on the presidential race, but on local elections, as well.

Floyd’s younger brother, Philonese Floyd, urged voters to “think about your children’s future, your income taxes, raising minimum wage, food stamps, Medicaid and any government assistance. Vote for your neighborhoods as your ancestors have fought for equality for so many years.”

“Don’t listen to people when they say, ‘Your vote doesn’t matter.’ Your voice won’t be heard,” added Philonese Floyd, who wore a face mask emblazoned with “8:46,” the length of time that the Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvinkept his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

“If people can stand for hours in a line to get new Air Jordan tennis shoes, stand in lines to get in clubs, camp out for Black Friday discounts, then I know that you should be able and willing to stand and vote.”

Thursday’s rally also featured video messages from Mayor Lori Lightfoot, California senator and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris and members of the band the Black Eyed Peas, all of whom echoed calls for voters to cast their ballots.

According to the Cook County Clerk’s Office, more than 300,000 votes have already been cast in the county.

Jacob Blake Sr., the father of the man shot and paralyzed by an officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, earlier this year, said he and Blake’s other relatives “came here to Chicago to show unity of families. We came here to tell the world that we will not stop.”

“If we do not get up and we do not stand for justice, then what are we?” Jacob Blake Sr. asked rhetorically, his voice rising. “We are fake, pretenders. I do not pretend to do what I do.”

Selvin Holmes, father of Marcellis Stinnette, listens to a speaker during a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Stinnette, 19, was fatally shot by a Waukegan police officer on Oct. 20.

Selvin Holmes, father of Marcellis Stinnette, listens to a speaker during a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Stinnette, 19, was fatally shot by a Waukegan police officer on Oct. 20.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Philonese Floyd, brother of George Floyd, joins dozens for a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Floyd, 46, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on May 25.

Philonese Floyd, brother of George Floyd, joins dozens for a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Floyd, 46, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds on May 25.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Selvin and Zharvellis Holmes, parents of Marcellis Stinnette, speak during a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Stinnette, 19, was fatally shot by a Waukegan police officer on Oct. 20.

Selvin and Zharvellis Holmes, parents of Marcellis Stinnette, speak during a Get Out The Vote rally, which brought together families of Black people killed or injured by police across the country, in Grant Park, Thursday afternoon, Oct. 29, 2020. Stinnette, 19, was fatally shot by a Waukegan police officer on Oct. 20.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

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