When junior Sonel Cutler’s family decided protesting in Washington, D.C. would be too risky, she jumped at the chance to demonstrate locally at a peaceful protest in Vienna.
“I had to talk it over with my parents because they had valid concerns about being in a big crowd,” Cutler said. “I made sure to wear a mask the whole time and not come into physical contact with anyone[…] It made me feel really reassured that almost every single person attending the protest had masks as well.”
Similar to Cutler, junior Teresa Capuano-Rizzo also seriously debated going to a larger, national protest. But, after attending, she said she felt even more encouraged to continue fighting for the Black Lives Matter movement and against police brutality.
“The turnout showed me how many people in this area support the movement, which was empowering, but it was also unnerving to hear the stories people shared of racial profiling and injustices within our community,” Capuano-Rizzo said. “At Marshall, we like to think of ourselves as an inclusive and diverse community, but going to the protest made me realize how apparent these issues of systemic racism are even in our school and throughout Fairfax county.”
But not everyone had the option of going out to protest. While junior Sanjoli Jain said she would have also attended the protests had she gotten the chance, due to risky circumstances, she was unable to go. She said she still supports the movement by signing petitions, watching videos that use Adsense to donate and emailing or calling representatives.
“With two older grandparents in my house that have underlying health conditions, I was refrained from going out in a closely packed protest,” Jain said. “I know people are risking their lives in these protests but I try to support this movement without risking the health of my loved ones.”
Cutler said protesting reminded her that there is strength in numbers, which provided the additional motivation to keep fighting.
“It felt really good to be able to be out on the streets using my voice with hundreds of others that felt the same way as me,” Cutler said. “But I also recognize that it’s not one-and-done. You can’t just attend a protest and stop there. I continue to find ways to support the black lives matter movement by donating, recognizing my privilege, educating myself and others and voicing my opinions.”