By Austin Mirmina.
Protesters will gather at the Higganum Town Green on Saturday, June 20, 2020 to show support for the nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The protest is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m.
Connor Reardon and Abbey Pop, who graduated from Haddam-Killingworth High School in 2015 and 2017, respectively, organized the event.
While scrolling through Twitter one day, Reardon said he saw Abbey’s post about doing something for the community in light of the recent unrest after the killing of George Floyd. Reardon said he sent Abbey a message on Twitter expressing his enthusiasm. And within three days of their online conversation, Reardon said, plans started coming together.
“Everything just kind of took off very fast,” Reardon said.
According to Reardon, the protest started as a way to voice solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movements happening around the county. But eventually it progressed into an opportunity to expose and denounce racism throughout HK.
“If we want to make any change in our local community, we have to address the racism that goes on in our town,” Reardon said.
Reardon said resource boards will be available for protesters, displaying vital information about voter registration, petitions, organizations for which to donate, and contact information for elected government officials.
“A lot of people out there want to help. They just don’t have the proper avenues to go out and actually help people,” Reardon said. “So that’s what we’re trying to provide them with.”
The idea to offer assistance with voter registration came from a recent East Haddam protest, Reardon said. Instead of filling out a paper ballot, individuals can simply scan a QR code with their cellphone camera, which will bring them to the voter registration website.
Applications for absentee ballots will also be distributed. Reardon said he hopes college students, who are typically away from home during the school year, will take advantage of the resource ahead of November’s general election.
Seven individuals – three from HK and four out-of-town residents – will speak at the protest. Reardon declined to release the speakers’ names for privacy concerns and fear of backlash, saying one East Haddam resident rescinded his commitment to speak after being threatened for speaking elsewhere.
Reardon said troopers stationed at a nearby food drive outside the Higganum Market will take turns patrolling the green. Troopers also agreed to block off the cut-through area near the gazebo for further safety.
Reardon said the protest is designed to both inform and inspire.
“While it’s great to have everyone stand around and talk about changes, we need actual physical actions to take place,” Reardon said. “And that’s one of our number one goals.”