The Pinecrest Neighborhood Association is inviting all to attend a peaceful, family-friendly march through East Lansing’s Pinecrest neighborhood on Friday, June 19, starting at 4 p.m.
Held in association with the national Movement for Black Lives, the event is a call from local organizers for residents to support three stated goals: “defund the police, invest in Black communities, and [call] for Donald Trump to resign.”
This event is being held on Juneteenth, an unofficial American holiday marking the liberation of enslaved persons in the U.S. To ELi’s knowledge, there is no other public celebration of the day occurring in the City of East Lansing, and this kind of march is unusual for a neighborhood association to arrange.
Event organizer Dr. Nichole Biber has lived in the Pinecrest neighborhood for three years. A member of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa, a Great Lakes region indigenous people, Biber says she has participated in other protests and rallies, including working with environmental justice organizations.
Then, “The President of the Neighborhood Association put out a call to the Board, that she’d like the neighborhood to show support, and make sure our black, indigenous, and people of color are feeling supported and safe,” Biber explained.
With the current reality of the COVID-19 era, Biber says she hasn’t attended protests lately in order to protect herself and her family. She thought it would be ideal to have a demonstration nearby. So she signed up to host through the sixnineteen.com website.
Friday’s march will begin at Harrison Road and Crown Boulevard and end at Henry Fine Park. Biber said the route is a mile long, and she encourages participants to bring their own water, signs, and personal stories.
“Signs are a great way to express one’s self,” to say “why you’re there, or [to share] a quote or phrase that’s affected you. It helps you express your own connection, your own understanding of this moment, and the importance of supporting and standing up with Black Lives to do that.”
Though the neighborhood has hosted numerous community events and gatherings in the past, Biber said this is the first of its kind since she’s been a resident there.
“I feel like there’s definitely the mix and diversity of people and ages in the neighborhood,” she said. “I think this is a good opportunity for people who feel like they want to do something, but wouldn’t go to a protest on their own, or never have.”
Her hope is that this local demonstration will help to teach and to create change, including among younger generations.
“Ideally, I see plenty of young people showing up,” Biber said. “The struggle of generations is in this moment, and this is our time to say what is just. And to show that to our children, and say, ‘this is what’s normal – it’s being courageous in difficult times.’”
Says Biber, “I’m very grateful to the Movement for Black Lives, and all the associated grassroots movements for all the work that’s being done to advance justice for everyone.”
She adds, “It’s been a very long time coming, and it’s heartening to see the extent that this has spread. It’s like, ‘hey, if it ends up in a comfortable neighborhood in suburbia, that seems like a good sign.’”
More information about the event is available at this page.