Chase Tuller, a 15-year-old from Kenston High School, wanted to hold a rally in Chagrin Falls to protest the horrific killing of George Perry Floyd by a police officer in Minnesota. The rising sophomore began making plans for a Black Lives Matter rally by obtaining a permit and spreading the word through social media. He envisioned an uplifting event with motivational speakers and a choir.
Instead, Chase received death threats. He described one call as, “If I see you guys, I’ll be sure to have a rifle aimed at your head.” Chase didn’t recognize any of the calls that came after he posted his phone number on social media.
Those threats to Chase and other student organizers are frightening and disgraceful. Chase’s goal was to create a peaceful place for citizens to express their frustrations over Mr. Floyd’s tragic death. Those calls to Chase were rooted in the hate that divides America.
Mr. Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on May 25 after a shop owner accused the 46-year-old black man of using a counterfeit $20. According to reports, Mr. Floyd did not resist arrest. After his arms were handcuffed behind his back, he apparently tripped, ending up face down on the street. Police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee on the right side of Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, according to reports, while other officers held down his back and legs. Mr. Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. A bystander videoed the awful incident and two autopsies confirmed that Mr. Floyd died of asphyxiation.
We condemn the actions of these police officers and demand swift justice for the Floyd family.
This message is being echoed by protesters around the U.S. and here in the Chagrin Valley.
This motivated Chase to do something. But the death threats and reports of destruction at other rallies convinced Chase to cancel the Chagrin Falls event.
People came anyway on a sunny Tuesday afternoon to Riverside Park, sharing their hurt over this tragic death and their hope for a better tomorrow. The Chagrin event demonstrated that citizens can come together in a peaceful manner. This was no place for death threats to a 15-year-old high school student.