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Jackson Hole, WY News


‘Love is more contagious than hate’

Hundreds kneel, demonstrate peacefully; police discuss philosophy, use of force.

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‘Love is more contagious than hate’

As dozens of fellow protesters watched, Frank Thomas and Will Geraci worked together Monday night to hang a Black Lives Matter sign underneath a Town Square antler arch.

The Jackson men then joined hands and held them high, smiling as people cheered, “You are the future.”

Thomas, 21, and Geraci, 20, best friends since their days at Jackson Hole Middle School, were part of a silent kneel demonstration for George Floyd on Monday on Town Square that included more than 700 other protesters.

“This gives me a lot of hope,” Thomas said, “even though the town is mostly white. But this is good.”

Thomas, one of the few people of color in a crowd of mostly white protesters, said this is where change begins.

Black Lives Matter protest

Organizer Ellen Weddington kneels alongside more than 700 other protesters Monday evening on the Town Square. They knelt in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kept his knee pressed into George Floyd’s neck during a May 25 arrest that led to Floyd’s death. “I texted a few people and this happened,” Weddington said. “It’s a testament to how awesome this community is.”

“At the end of the day, white voices hold more weight than black people’s,” he said. “It’s a good turnout and it shows positivity for the future.”

Geraci said the turnout and hearing chants about equality in a town like Jackson is especially impactful.

“With all the privilege here in Jackson, white privilege especially but privilege as a whole, it’s great seeing people who have no direct impact to them still getting out and getting their voices heard,” he said. “That is what matters, and that is ultimately the introspection of realizing each of us are racist in our own ways and growing out of that in a way that we can help build an actually equal world.”

The demonstration was one of the biggest to ever take place on Jackson’s Town Square, where protests of all types tend to take place.

People wearing masks filled George Washington Memorial Park, and just after 7 p.m. the event’s organizer Ellen Weddington, 29, welcomed them, using a megaphone so the massive crowd could hear her.

“This is a testament to the kind of community we live in,” she said. “We are here in honor of the life of George Floyd and all the other black Americans who died before him at the hands of racism and police brutality.”

Following Weddington’s remarks the crowd knelt in unison and stayed on their knees for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

“That’s how long George Floyd was on the ground with an officer’s knee pressing on his neck,” Weddington said. “We will stay silent and focus on all the lives of black Americans that were lost.”

For Jueliet Menolascino, 19, and her group of college-age friends, Monday marked the first demonstration they had all attended. They were struck by the size of the crowd kneeling in the wet grass as the evening sun beamed through the trees.