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Black Lives Matter protest in Marion

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Marion, Ill. (WSIL) -- Mount Vernon, Harrisburg, and tonight Marion.

Hundreds rallied across the area today following the recent deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.

Hundreds turned out in Marion for what ended up being a peaceful protest as intended.

Here's why they said they felt it was so important to come out.

Marion resident and former member of the U.S. Air Force, Michael Neal said, "People of different backgrounds coming here, just being one voice. I hope open conversation happens. even with those who counter protest. I don't want just anger to be on both sides, just be able to talk and see where both sides are coming from, that can just start a conversation."

Jeffery Melton said when his wife found out about the event, he knew he wanted to attend.

He said his reasoning for coming to this event was, "That the violence, police brutality stops and that we all come together, and we look at, everybody's here together. White, black, it doesn't matter, 'We the people' and we demand justice."

There were a couple of instances where emotions ran high, but the situations were quickly diffused.

Eddie Webb, previously of Cairo has been a Marion resident for many years. He said he's seen police come and go but that a good squad was a big part of why he decided to live in Marion.

When speaking about the police, Webb said, "They don't deserve this, I'm sorry. They are protecting and they're serving. They just literally helped me and my family the other day. The cops don't deserve this. All lives matter in general, I'm sorry."

Police, firefighters and the mayor were present, but mostly stayed in the background and let the protesters chant and rally.

As long as traffic was allowed to continue through, those with signs and the people who were documenting this moment in history were out in the forefront.

Local Pastor Buddy Ryals of The Potter's House Christian Fellowship Church on East Deyoung Street said he hoped people would take the hurt in their hearts and use that emotion to lift one another up.

"I always tell people that life is very difficult but God is good. That doesn't mean everything is going to be okay," Ryals said.

Victoria Idoni

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