June 20, 2024
Local News

Family draws demonstrators to Antioch to start ‘meaningful conversations’

ANTIOCH – What began as a group chat between 16-year-old Machi Perrin and his friends resulted in a gathering of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators in downtown Antioch.

The June 7 event – one of numerous protests, rallies and prayer vigils throughout Lake County and beyond this past week in support of the Black Lives Matter movement – was only a beginning.

United with his parents, Sabrina and William Perrin of Lake Villa, Machi Perrin intends to help create B.R.I.D.G.E., Building Relationships in Different Generations Everyday, an initiative designed to bring more meaningful conversations to Lake County.

Although B.R.I.D.G.E. remains in its infancy, the group’s 34 members aim to host regular events to address and raise awareness of injustice and inequality issues.

“The color of our skin doesn’t have to affect our relationships,” said Machi Perrin, a student and cheerleader at Lakes Community High School. “We just need peace in the world.”

Machi Perrin had no idea what to expect when he pursued plans for a protest in Antioch at the suggestion of friends, including 17-year-old Sophia Chapman of Lake Villa. Like protesters throughout the country, the teens decried racism and police actions in the deaths of African Americans in several recent tragedies.

“If you’re white and you’re not angry, that’s the problem,” Chapman said.

Machi Perrin contacted Antioch leaders and the police department, which worked with the Perrin family to arrange the protest. Police helped clear a path downtown for hundreds of protesters – ranging in age from children to seniors – to march.

Along with the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Laquan McDonald, they chanted phrases such as “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”

They carried numerous signs with a unifying message.

“No child should be taught how to behave at gunpoint.”

“I will not tolerate what I know is wrong. All my students deserve equal rights.”

“When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.”

“I can’t breathe.”

“Enough is enough.”

“Black lives matter.”

The protesters circled downtown Antioch several times before kneeling to observe eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in recognition of the time that a Minneapolis police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck.

“It was amazing,” Machi Perrin said of the turnout. “This was way more people than I thought would come.”

At the same time he was making plans for a protest in Antioch, his mother, Sabrina, was coordinating a similar protest in Lake Villa. When she heard about her son’s effort, she postponed her own plans to stand by his side.

Neither expected to draw such a large crowd to Antioch.

As the protesters gathered, Sabrina Perrin revved up the cheering crowd as she spoke of the need for “peace and love” in the world.

“We no longer will keep silent. I do not agree with looting. I do not agree with violence. It has no place in the hearts of people,” she said. “We are all in this together. We have to stand side by side. We have to understand each other. We have to come together more often. This demonstration cannot stop here. It has to go into conversations, into your homes, into your children. It’s our future.”

She thanked all for caring and vowed to fight injustice.

“We need healing in the land, but at the same time we can begin anew,” she said. “We have today to start afresh. We have today to start over. … We can start something great and new today.”

William Perrin told the crowd, “With this demonstration of love, we have a chance, an opportunity to right what’s wrong.”

The demonstration was among several drawing crowds last week to Lake County communities, including Waukegan, Grayslake, Zion, Buffalo Grove, Lake Forest and Lake Zurich.

The Grayslake crowd on June 4 stretched about a half-mile and shut down Route 83 and the entrance to the College of Lake County.

Having also gone to the Grayslake protest, Brina Bugalski of Round Lake said the reason she took part in the Antioch protest was simple: “All lives don’t matter until black lives matter.”