Evanston Fight for Black Lives hosts community painting event, third in the “Reclaim the Block” series

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Jack Austin/The Daily Northwestern

A community member holds up their painted sign, which says “Evanston Fight for Black Lives”.

Jack Austin, Reporter

Around 30 people painted canvases with their ideas around abolition outside of Evanston Police Department on Sunday in an effort to build community as part of Evanston Fight for Black Lives’ third “Reclaim the Block” series.

Amalia Loiseau, a University of Illinois student and an organizer, said the goal of the event was to create a safe space for community members.

Mixing several colors and using round shapes, Sydney Salem paints what abolition means, with the encouragement of her father, Omar.
Sydney Salem works on a painting. Evanston Fight for Black Lives organizers prompted community members to paint what abolition means to them. (Jack Austin/The Daily Northwestern)

With the city’s Black population declining, Loiseau said it is imperative to improve the quality of life of Black residents. Loiseau sees EFBL’s “Reclaim the Block” events as an opportunity to take back power for the people and create a strong community. 

“As a member of the Black community in Evanston, we do events to uplift ourselves. It is really important to build community,” Loiseau said. “People are seeing that the police are given so much money to cause so much harm. Even simple things like this can help. Having open conversations can help with healing.”

Omar Salem, an Evanston resident of 10 years, said he wants his children to know what Evanston youth activists are fighting for. He appreciated how family friendly Sunday’s event was, and his daughter, Sydney, immersed herself in the painting activity.

Organizer Sarah Bogan said considering that Evanston’s population is around 74,000, she wishes more people had showed up. Given the high level of support among college-aged individuals, however, Bogan said she expects turnout will be greater as the summer progresses and students return home.

Sitting on the curb, with green grass behind them, a couple are captured smiling together, holding art canvases.
Sarah Bogan, one of the event organizers, shares a laugh with her boyfriend during the event. (Jack Austin/The Daily Northwestern)

“A big point is making a point to this department that we are not going anywhere,” Bogan said. “There is so much love that goes into this work and community building is the whole point of what we are doing.”

Resident Liz Kenney, a member of Quaker congregation Evanston Friends Meeting, said she was impressed by the youths’ work and their engagement in creative non-violence and peace, which are central Quaker values, she said. 

As a White woman, Kenney acknowledged her privilege in interacting with the police.

“The police are designed to keep me safe. And they do. Like a lot of White people in this country, I am reckoning with that,” Kenney said. “We can’t wait to take action. It’s a moral imperative.”

For Bogan, Sunday was an opportunity to share a community-based side of the movement  different from standing in the streets and protesting. Particularly, she said creating spaces for people of color stands out as an important objective of the Sunday ‘Reclaim the Block’ parties. 

“I’m passionate because these are my people and we should all have the same rights and feel like we deserve to be in spaces just as much as other people,” Bogan said. 

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Twitter: @JackAustinNews

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