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Locals take a knee in peaceful protest

By Christina Luick 262-224-4166

CEDARBURG — A group of people could be seen kneeling quietly along Washington Avenue in front of Cedarburg City Hall Tuesday evening. The Kneel for Nine protest was put together to speak against police brutality and in remembrance of George Floyd, who died after a police officer knelt on his neck for approximately nine minutes.

Kneel for Nine is a national organization and protests occurred in several places Tuesday, including Brookfield and Milwaukee.

“We may not be a big city but we can still show our support and our solidarity for change that needs to occur across our country,” said Karen Hershenson, who led the protest, to the group. “And the time is now.”

The Cedarburg resident learned about the Kneel for Nine protests that same day and decided to form a protest locally.

“I, like so many other people, felt outrage, pain and sadness seeing the video of George Floyd losing his life at the hands of police and I felt the need to want to show our solidarity for him and for all of our black brothers and sisters in our country who are murdered at the hands of police,” Hershneson said, adding that police are not being held accountable for their actions.


Protesters took a knee for nine minutes outside of Cedarburg’s City Hall on Tuesday afternoon to reflect and pray following the death of George Floyd.

Photos by Christina Luick/News Graphic Staff

Ellyn O’Grady shows off a sign she made to take part in a peaceful protest Tuesday in Cedarburg.

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Residents protest the death of George Floyd outside Cedarburg City Hall on Tuesday.

She continued, “I think living in a small town, we may not face those same types of social issues where we live but we can still care about them and do what we can to be catalysts for change.”

The only sound that could be heard during the nine minutes was the passing of cars, with some drivers looking at the group. A few police officers watched from a distance near the entrance of City Hall.

Once the nine minutes were over, many of the participants left peacefully while some stuck around to chat.

Alyssa Herbst, who is white, brought her 2-year-old son Harry to the protest.

“We have an African-American son and he’s going to be growing up here and right now we get a lot of people saying how cute he is all the time and I know that there’s going to be a day where I’m going to have to worry about him,” she said.

She added, “I was raised in a very strong, pro civil rights family and so it was something that I believed very strongly but now that it really affects my family I need to speak up and say something.”

Ellyn O’Grady joined the protest after noticing it from her home on Washington Avenue. She held a sign that read, “Grief, Rage, Justice for all the George Floyds.” O’Grady made it and stood out with it on the streets Monday by herself.

She said she was so moved when she saw the protest on Tuesday.

“It felt so good to join people after feeling alone yesterday,” O’Grady said.

O’Grady mentioned that she did receive support during her personal protest Monday as she waved to cars.

“I was incredibly moved and thrilled to find this kind of community here,” she said about the protest.

Law enforcement response

Ozaukee County Sheriff Jim Johnson also spoke out regarding the ongoing national protests in response to police brutality.

“Ethical law enforcement leaders do not tolerate excessive use of force, we need to send a clear message that we stand against police brutality,” Johnson said in a statement. “George Floyd’s murder is a despicable act, that this act was perpetrated by someone that was sworn to uphold the law should anger those law enforcement officers that uphold our oath of honor.”

He added that police have heard and recognized the thoughts and words of citizens and said violence is not the way communities should seek to bring about change — communication is. Another protest is planned this Saturday starting at 3 p.m. at Cedar Creek Park. This protest is organized through local residents and is being called a peaceful, in person gathering.

Cedarburg residents took nine minutes to protest the death of George Floyd outside City Hall Tuesday.

Photos by Christina Luick/News Graphic Staff

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