Customers visit the River Square Shopping Center on Detroit Road between Rockland and Lakeview avenues for a variety of things, including groceries, pet supplies and wine. For Rocky River resident Christine Hinckley, it’s the perfect spot to lace up her Doc Martin boots and protest police brutality in America.
“I was affected by comments I kept reading on social media about what people in communities like this thought of the protests and I realized that the Black Lives Matter movement needed to be amplified in cities like this,” Hinckley, 42, said, noting that she chose the spot because of how busy it is during the day.
Hoping to raise awareness of racial inequity, Hinckley has been standing in front of the Whole Foods Market from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. every Thursday for the past two months. She plans to stand there until something concrete is done, she said.
Hinckley’s weekly protest has spurred mixed reactions. Sometimes, she said, people swear at her or even drive their car as if they’re going to hit her. Other times, people bring her ice cream, crates of water or even join her.
“Whenever something bad happens to me, I remember I am a white woman and I can put my sign down at any time,” she said.
Hinckley is part of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Rocky River. The goal of the local chapter is to hold classes in black history, police origins and white privilege for the police department, as well as seek monthly audits of the department’s top five ticket writers. The group also would like to see legislation requiring that all payments for police misconduct come from the department’s pension fund.
As a bisexual woman, Hinckley said the protest is especially important because of her own experiences as a member of the LGBTQ community. To her, both communities have been fighting for equal representation in the country and now the LGBTQ community can help Black Lives Matter be heard.
Hinckley, who is studying library science at Kent State University, was raised in Brooklyn on the near West Side. While she was growing up, her parents would take her to art festivals and places such as the Cleveland Institute of Art to experience performances and exhibits from various cultures. She said she developed her understanding of the world outside of her own from those experiences. She has been a Rocky River resident for seven months.
“Taking a stand in general and being consistent with that stance, it speaks to anybody who may have a different world view,” she said. “Being able to see me taking a stand may give somebody a little bit of hope and that’s why I’ll keep going.”
While some change is being made, Hinckley understands that it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and is prepared for the long run.
“It’s challenging, but we’re fighting for changes and human rights and if it was easy it would have already been done,” she said. “It’s easy to forget what’s going on in other places. This is an ongoing fight and until I see actual changes, I can give six months, I can give a year or two years. Hopefully, this will inspire other people to pick up a sign and protest when I can’t.”
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