Except for two hours during Saturday evening’s downpour, small groups of silent protesters rotated in and out of Mill Creek Park last weekend in support of the national efforts to end racial injustice. The event, which was called Sandwich Stands, ran for 1½ days, from 6 AM Saturday, June 27, until 6 PM Sunday, June 28.
“Our signup sheet shows 84 discreet time slots were filled, but a few folks signed up for two and one guy signed up for three. In addition, we had a number of ‘walk-ons’ who ended up being some of our most ardent standers,” said Jeanie Yaroch, one of the organizers of the vigil. “One walk-on came at 11:30 PM on Saturday and stayed until 5 AM on Sunday when his wife (who had registered) came to relieve him.”
“The only glitch was the rain. Our 6 PM to 8 PM standers didn’t come, but one emailed me and said she and her friends were women in their 70s with arthritis and they just couldn’t do it. But we picked right back up at 8 PM. Our 11 PM and midnight shifts had around eight people each,” she said.
Some of the protesters waved the American flag. Others held signs proclaiming Black Lives Matter and Liberty And Justice For All. A banner with the words Sandwich Stands adorned a split-rail fence along the sidewalk’s edge. The positive support from people driving by was strong, Ms. Yaroch said, with people beeping their horns or waving in support of the vigil.
“This 36-hour event was different than most of the other marches and rallies that are happening. In a sense, it was an endurance event, and it proved that Sandwich has the heart and the spirit to show up and hang together over the long haul. But in another sense, this 36 hours was but a sprint, and the marathon is just beginning, the story is not complete,” the organizers said in their closing remarks. “Changing the status quo takes work, and work takes people coming together. It takes hard conversations and the ability and inclination to listen. By choosing to begin the change process in Sandwich through ‘standing,’ we have begun laying the groundwork for meaningful change through collaboration. Let’s continue to organize and work together to impact education, local policies and to stand strongly against racism.”