Black Lives Matter, protesters in Gorham last week turn on to South Street from Main Street in Gorham Village. Robert Lowell / American Journal

GORHAM — High school students organized a  peaceful Black Lives Matter demonstration last week, marching through Gorham Village June 10 chanting, “No justice, no peace” and “This is what democracy looks like.”

It was the students’ second demonstration in as many weeks, but last week’s route was shorter and had fewer participants than the first protest, which drew 400 people on June 3.  The protests, along with others in the state and nationwide, followed the death in Minnesota last month of George Floyd, a black man who died in police custody while a white officer held his knee on his neck.

The mile march proceeded through the village, beginning and ending at the municipal center where organizer Miriam Beshir, a member of this year’s high school graduating class, asked protesters to take a knee for Tamir Rice. Rice, a black 12-year-old was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014 while carrying a toy gun in a Cleveland, Ohio, park.

Ursula Steiner, left, Chloe Russell, and Shannon Lawrence prepare to march in a Black Lives Matter protest in Gorham last week. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Organizers said their goal is to keep protesting to ensure awareness about the Black Lives Matter movement.

“Our goal is to continue and keep making our voices heard,” said Gorham High School senior Shannon Lawrence. Protesters Ursula Steiner and Chloe Russell, Gorham graduates this year, echoed Lawrence’s statement.

Another protest was announced on Facebook this week for Thursday, June 18. Participants will gather at 5:45 p.m. at Shaw Gym at the town Municipal Center.
Police Chief Christopher Sanborn said protesters have collaborated with police. Last week he presented Beshir and organizer Breshia Flett with  challenge coins from the Police Department to honor them “for being so civically minded in supporting the BLM movement locally and on a national level,” Sanborn said. The coins are presented to community members who “go above and beyond and do extraordinary things, either for the community, its citizens or the police department,” he said.

“They’ve been great to work with for sure,” Sanborn said. “I wanted to recognize them for working so closely with the police department to ensure that their protest was safe and peaceful.”

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