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I attended the protest in downtown Tuesday and I was supposed to be able to read a poem that I wrote, but due to time restrictions, my speech was cut. This piece is very important to me and I would really love to have my voice heard. Here is the writing:

“When I cry out to you asking for help, what do you hear? Do you hear the pleas of a bruised and tattered soul? One that is so tired of fearing for their life every second of the day, or do you just hear silence? A sickening, comforting silence that tricks you into believing a false sense of unity and justification.

“When you look at me, what do you see? Do you see a person the same as you? Do you see someone that is living their life day to day same as you? Or do you just see a color. Do you see the embodiment of crime, drugs, destruction, and gangs? Or do you see me?

“Do you see the me that is standing here before you, asking you not to shoot? Do you see the me that is here with my hands raised in the air in fearful surrender? Do you see the me that bleeds the same blood as you? Because I am here to tell you that I do. I am here to tell you that I am human, we are human. The difference between us is that my blood is in the streets, and on the hands of the ones that have wronged us.

“If you don’t see me, do you see the century-old blood that stains your hands and the hands that came before you? Do you see the pain on our face as your words pelt our skin like bullets, tearing holes in our self worth. Do you see that after all this pain and misery we are still strong? Can you feel our strength as we pick ourselves off of the ground and continue to fight, to live? Do you know that no matter what happens, my brothers and sisters will remain proud and strong?

“I am here to tell you that we are. We are here to tell you that we are. We are here to scream and chant, we are here to honor the ones that passed, we are here to show that we are human and that we deserve to live. We are here to be heard. Do you hear us now?”

Keona LeRoux, Clinton