MIAMI COUNTY — It was a simple sign made of white poster board and black marker: Black Lives Matter.
Recent Troy High School graduate Bailey Williams, 18, smiled and waved as passers-by honked and hollered, and occasionally jeered, as he stood on the sidewalk with his homemade sign as a quiet protest of national events outside of the Miami County Courthouse Saturday evening.
On Saturday, Williams stood alone on the sidewalk talking with those who passed by or acknowledged them with a smile or a polite nod of the head.
It’s not the typical way a Troy teen spends a warm summer Saturday night, but Williams said that he felt compelled to show his support to peacefully protest the shooting deaths of two African-Americans by white police officers in Minnesota and Louisiana last week.
“I’m tired of seeing these things happen, things that have gone on in the past week, the past years,” Williams said. “(I’m) just disgusted with what happened to Philando Castile and Alton Sterling and the list goes on and on … Trayvon Martin, Eric Gardener, Walter Scott, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland … I just want to have my voice heard because I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines.”
Williams said he plans on standing outside of the county courthouse for one hour per day for an undetermined number of days.
“One man can change the world. I know Troy is a small town, but I just wanted to start it and raise awareness and do what I can and I wanted to get involved,” he said.
“We should raise awareness because there are events happening across the United States and I’m just terrified that something could happen to me, something could happen to my brother, to my dad,” he said. “I work at the Lincoln Community Center and we serve so many African-American youth there. I don’t want anything like that to happen to any one of them … I’m terrified if something like that would happen to them.”
Williams shared how he and his family has had “the talk” about what to do if he were to pulled over by law enforcement.
“You have to be twice as careful compared to caucasian people. Whenever a cop comes up to the car, eyes straight forward and hands on the wheel, don’t move until they tell you do something. Say what you are going to do to the police officer before you even do it,” he said.
Williams plans to study political science at Ohio University on a full academic scholarship this fall.
“I plan to do this every day for about an hour,” Williams said. “This was just a spur of the moment (thing). Hopefully, I can get some of friends to come down and maybe even some strangers to come out, too.”