Taking unrest to the streets between Centennial and Littleton (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Protest against treatment of black Americans comes to busy intersection


An 11-year-old stood on a street corner and recited the famous line:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

That excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have a Dream” speech, delivered in Washington on Aug. 28, 1963, came from the mouth of Khloe Lillyblad, one of about 50 demonstrators who converged June 18 at the intersection of two of the south Denver metro area's largest thoroughfares — South Broadway and East Arapahoe Road — on the boundary between Centennial and Littleton during rush hour.

The crowd lined the sidewalks, chanting messages such as “No justice, no peace” and bearing signs that read “Black lives matter” — echoing a message heard in protests in recent weeks throughout the metro area following the killing of George Floyd, a black man, by a white Minneapolis police officer. The incident sparked nationwide unrest.

The Black Lives Matter movement opposes "state-sanctioned violence" against black people, along with "anti-Black racism," according to its website.

At the June 18 sidewalk event, passing cars honked in support, while drivers of some vehicles blasted their exhaust or revved their engines, apparently in disapproval, said Lynne Popkowski, a Littleton resident who helped organize the protest.

“I'd say (the response) is about 85% positive,” Popkowski said, adding that some people in passing cars yelled if they opposed the crowd.

Popkowski, who said she is in her 60s, had reached out to Larry Thompson Sr., a black 29-year-old Centennial-area resident and activist, about putting together a demonstration for people who want to avoid large crowds seen at other protests.

“I think black voices need to be at the center of all the actions (activists) do,” she said. “Good allies center their voices, not our voices.”

To Thompson — who grew up in Mississippi — people in the Denver area seem more willing to physically show support for a cause such as racial equality, he said.

“In Mississippi, it's more silhouette-based support,” Thompson said.

He's hoping the recent momentum for protests rolls forward to impact elections, floating the goal of ultimately solving racism on a societal level.

“It'll be more of a character-based situation” in America then, he added.

Jennifer Grose, a mother from Littleton who came to protest with two of her children, noted the low proportion of black residents in her part of the suburbs. She'd like to see that change.

Asked why she came to the event, Grose said: “To tell my kids, 'Be part of history and help out.' ”


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