Say Their Names: Candlelight vigil honors people of color killed due to police violence

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – On Friday night community members and supporters of Black Lives Matter gathered for a candlelight vigil at La Crosse City Hall to remember and honor people of color who died at the hands of police.

Candles were placed on the ground, forming the words ‘Say Their Names,’ and photos of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, and others filled poster boards.

People brought peace offerings and held candles.

Some stood on the stairs of City Hall, talking about the victims and sharing their stories, while others stood quietly and listened.

One of the organizers says she wants people to see past the misconceptions of the Black Live Matter movement.

“A lot of people think the Black Lives Matter movement is just burning down buildings and cussing out police officers and assaulting people, but that’s really not what it is. At the end of the day, we’re here to fight for the people who have lost their lives, and to fight for all people of color and their rights,” Brianna Washington said. “I just want people to realize it’s not what the media portrays. They like to portray all the violence and show all the destruction but they don’t want to show the peaceful protest, the people gathering, making donations, making meals,” she added.

Brianna Washington is the co-president of Black Student Leaders.

As high schoolers, organizing events like these are not easy, but Washington said she’s willing to take on the challenges because of the difference it makes in our community.

“We have minimum wage jobs, we’re going out buying all the materials we need, making [social media] posts. It is very stressful, but we know we’re creating change and we know we’re making an impact. It may seem small but the more we continue, the more we fight, it creates a larger and larger impact.”

Washington said she really appreciates the outside help she and other organizers have received.

This is the last gathering Black Student Leaders is holding this year because it’s getting colder out and the pandemic is keeping them from holding indoor events.

But Washington said that doesn’t mean they’re done fighting, and shared this message:

“We’re going to continue to do what we’re doing because human rights is not a debate. Everybody deserves the same treatment. If you cannot understand that, then maybe you need to educate yourself a little more and look deeper into why you feel the way you do.”