More than 130 people walked through downtown Naperville on Saturday to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., in late February.
But they also wanted to give notice that racism cannot be tolerated.
“We’re walking for Trayvon and everybody who’s been a victim of violence,” said Kelly Ingram, of Naperville, who helped organize the rally and a one-mile walk…
Word of the Naperville event circulated via Facebook and other social media…
Naperville’s nearby carillon tolled as the racially diverse crowd gathered under bright blue skies at Centennial Beach on West Jackson Avenue. Many wore hoodies, as Martin had when he was slain.
Considering the vocal discussion of and reactions to this case, I’m not surprised. But I was interested to see that this took place in downtown Naperville. This march comes not long after an Occupy Naperville group met in and marched in downtown Naperville. Why all this activity in Naperville and not in other suburban communities? I think there are two big reasons for this:
1. Naperville has a thriving downtown. Thus, a protest group is going to be seen by a decent number of people who happen to be in Naperville for shopping, eating, walking about the Riverwalk, or going to the library. Just standing on one of the busier street corners, like Main and Jefferson, is going to draw attention. In contrast, many suburban communities don’t have this kind of well-populated public space. While other suburbs may have quaint downtowns or thriving strip malls and/or shopping areas, these places aren’t going to have the same kind of foot traffic as downtown Naperville.
2. Naperville is a wealthy, mainly white, and fairly conservative/Republican community so protesters may believe protesting about issues such as race and class will particularly cause a stir. In this line of reasoning, having a protest in Aurora or Elgin or Joliet or Oak Park or another large suburb might not be so appealing as compared to going to Naperville and pushing the envelope further.
Let’s say that from this point forward Naperville does continue to draw protesters who are attracted by a popular downtown and a wealthy community: how will Naperville respond?