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Hundreds gather at City Park for walk of solidarity

Editor’s Note: The Collegian updated this article on June 4 to correct a fact error. It originally listed Jo Jo Bailey as a Windsor resident, not a Fort Collins resident. 

Community walks in the springtime are common occurrences. Walks for cancer, for holidays or just for fun. Now, there are walks for solidarity too.

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Protesters walk through the rain around Sheldon Lake in City Park on May 31 as part of the “Another World is Possible” march. According to the march’s Facebook page the goal was to get the Fort Collins community to “walk toward change and justice.” (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

Hundreds gathered Sunday afternoon at the Fort Collins City Park for a walk of solidarity with the family of George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer May 25.

“The walk felt right for us,” said Melissa Lozano Davis, who co-organized the walk with friend Missy Splittgerber. “When we were talking earlier this week, we were feeling really frozen. You know, the body’s response, we go fight, flight, freeze, and we could feel ourselves going into freeze, so walking was really important to move our bodies.”

Lozano Davis and Splittgerber planned to walk at least one lap around Sheldon Lake, but said that participants were welcome to walk as little or much as they desired. However, a downpour started at around 4:30 p.m., just as the crowd finished the first lap, and many people dispersed. 

We see it more as a swirl. It’s not a circle, it doesn’t end. This is something that we will start this walk all together, and then we will continue it in our own homes and communities.” -Melissa Lozano Davis, co-organizer

Fort Collins resident Jo Jo Bailey brought with her a sign that read, “I am a mama and I rise with all mamas.” 

“We all feel heavy, and we all want to do something,” Bailey said. “I want to better educate myself, I want to pay attention and possibly go to more peaceful demonstrations, and I just want to pay attention.”

Melissa Lozano Davis (left) and Missy Splittgerber (right) speak next to Sheldon Lake in City Park on May 31 as part of the “Another World is Possible” march. (Matt Tackett | The Collegian)

Before starting the walk, Splittgerber read from the poem “V’ahavta” by Aurora Levins Morales, to, as Lozano Davis put it, set the tone for the walk and allow people to center themselves before walking. 

“We want this to be an honoring of the lives that have been lost, first and foremost,” Splittgerber said in a video posted to the Facebook event page. “We stand in honor of them, we stand in solidarity with their families. That’s the beauty of joining together, not just with our families, but with our community family, and saying ‘We stand with you, and we grieve with you, and now we walk to change so that this doesn’t happen to more families.’”

Lozano Davis described the walk as “embodied activism.”

“Walking is symbolic of ‘we are walking towards change and justice,’” Lozano Davis said. “We’re not standing still, we’re walking. We see it more as a swirl. It’s not a circle, it doesn’t end. This is something that we will start this walk all together, and then we will continue it in our own homes and communities.”

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Serena Bettis can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @serenaroseb.

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About the Contributor
Serena Bettis, Editor in Chief
Serena Bettis is your 2022-23 editor in chief and is in her final year studying journalism and political science. In her three years at The Collegian, Bettis has also been a news reporter, copy editor, news editor and content managing editor, and she occasionally takes photos, too. When Bettis was 5, her family moved from Iowa to a tiny town northwest of Fort Collins called Livermore, Colorado, before eventually moving to Fort Collins proper. When she was 8 years old, her dad enrolled at Colorado State University as a nontraditional student veteran, where he found his life's passion in photojournalism. Although Bettis' own passion for journalism did not stem directly from her dad, his time at CSU and with The Collegian gave her the motivation to bite down on her fear of talking to strangers and find The Collegian newsroom on the second day of classes in 2019. She's never looked back since. Considering that aforementioned fear, Bettis is constantly surprised to be where she is today. However, thanks to the supportive learning environment at The Collegian and inspiring peers, Bettis has not stopped chasing her teenage dream of being a professional journalist. Between working with her section editors, coordinating news stories between Rocky Mountain Student Media departments and coaching new reporters, Bettis gets to live that dream every day. When she's not in the newsroom or almost falling asleep in class, you can find Bettis working in the Durrell Marketplace and Café or outside gazing at the beauty that is our campus (and running inside when bees are nearby). This year, Bettis' goals for The Collegian include continuing its trajectory as a unique alt-weekly newspaper, documenting the institutional memory of the paper to benefit students in years to come and fostering a sense of community and growth both inside the newsroom and through The Collegian's published work. Bettis would like to encourage anyone with story ideas, suggestions, questions, concerns or comments to reach out to her at editor@collegian.com.

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