Chants of "I can't breathe" rang throughout McHenry's Veterans Memorial Park on Monday when demonstrators gathered to protest the killing of 46-year-old black man George Floyd.
Floyd died May 25 after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on the man's neck for nearly nine minutes, as Floyd exclaimed "I can't breathe."
McHenry's protest Monday was the most recent of three similar demonstrations that happened in Woodstock and Huntley on Sunday. Lillian Purich, the 23-year-old McHenry resident who organized Monday's protest, said that although she'll never be able to understand what it's like to be in someone else's skin, she wanted people to understand the physical feeling of lying vulnerably on the ground.
She also had attendees kneel for nine minutes so they might understand the effort and sheer time Chauvin spent on top of Floyd. Several members of the McHenry Police on the scene kneeled with them.
"When people are down like that they feel the weight of their body," Purich said. "And I saw a lot of people cry."
Round Lake resident Andre Pipes is no stranger to racially motivated police force, he said. Pipes, who attended the protest with his wife, Kimberly Pipes, daughter, Andreanna Pipes, and 5-year-old grandson, T.J., grew up in an area of Mississippi where racial tensions were high, he said.
"I look at what's going on now and I think, 'here we go again,'" Andre Pipes said.
Still, Andre Pipes and his family have hope for 5-year-old T.J.'s future. The small boy stood with his family Monday, holding a cardboard sign reading "Black Lives Matter' above his head throughout the protest.
"I hope that people realize we are all people," Andre Pipes said ."We are not animals."