As outrage exploded in Kenosha, Wis., over a police shooting, Deshann Sanchez wanted to impart the lessons that she and other demonstrators learned when facing off with authorities following the death of George Floyd.
So she drove to the Lake Michigan town on Monday afternoon with supplies, including many donated during the Minneapolis protests: backpacks, snacks, hard hats, goggles, tear gas solution and water.
"What did we learn? What can we give?" said Sanchez, co-founder and president of Justice Frontline Aid. "We have a lot of supplies left over and Wisconsin is right next door. It's our neighbor. It's another community that's also hurting right now."
Twin Cities protesters demanded justice after a bystander posted a video of a white policeman in Kenosha shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back at point-blank range. As some made the nearly six-hour drive through Wisconsin, others rallied at the Hennepin County Government Center on Monday evening in echoes of the anguish, fury and determination that unfolded in the streets after Floyd, also a Black man, died under the knee of a white officer on May 25.
"How many more Jacobs and Georges and Breonnas and Ahmaud Arberys do we need for them to realize that our lives matter?" Loretta VanPelt of the Twin Cities Coalition for Justice 4 Jamar asked.
Speakers addressed the crowd from steps leading to the second floor of the Government Center, and hundreds of people carrying signs and sometimes chanting filled its plaza before marching downtown. "KKKenosha officers shot him 7 times in the back on camera. What do they do off camera?" read one woman's sign.
"It hurts to see another Black person get shot in the way Jacob was shot," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "I kept looking at the gun. I kept looking at this police officer. … He knew exactly what he was doing. He had been trained to pull that gun out and he saw Jacob as a threat, a man who was walking away, a man who was going inside his car with his children inside."
The mother of a man who died while in custody said police should not be above the law.
"They should be held accountable for the blood on their hands," said Del Shea Perry, whose son, Hardel Sherrell, died in 2018. Perry has said he died of a medical condition after asking for help from staff at the Beltrami County Jail.
Community organizer Toussaint Morrison, who helped lead the march, is heading to Wisconsin on Tuesday because he believes it's important for Black people like him to stand in solidarity with those in Kenosha and show authorities that this shooting will not go unchecked. And protesters, he said, are ready after the clashes with the Minneapolis Police Department.
"Protesters are more seasoned and more prepared," said Morrison. "People are already making kits. They're ready for tear gas, flash bombs and whatever militarization police are going to put on."
On Sunday, Sanchez and a fellow volunteer were discussing their plans to attend this Friday's March on Washington with civil rights leaders Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III. When news broke of Blake's shooting, she said that her acquaintance cried.
Most of the protesting community in The Twin Cities has some form of post-traumatic stress disorder, Sanchez added, and she's a little nervous that "we are voluntarily putting ourselves in another traumatic situation."
Sanchez, 31, founded Justice Frontline Aid after realizing how unprepared Minneapolis protesters were in May.
As crowds took to the streets, police sprayed tear gas while she sat on the ground holding a sign that said, "Stop police brutality." Sanchez covered her eyes but inadvertently breathed it in, which seared her insides so painfully that she became nauseated and thought she would need an ambulance.
After the Floyd protests, she got a tattoo on her left forearm that said: "If I perish, I perish."
She said she has worked to get more mental health and nursing professionals at the protests in Minneapolis. The organization has also been attending racial justice protests with supplies at least once a week throughout the summer.
Sanchez said she and volunteers with Justice Frontline Aid now hope to show people in Wisconsin how to stay safe if they protest what they believe to be "another excessive use of force."
Staff writer Matt McKinney contributed to this report.