People gathered in front of city hall in Frederick Sunday for Frederick City Paint and Protest.
“I was pretty frustrated with everything going on and especially Jacob Blake’s shooting,” said Olivia De Guzman, founder of Community Outreach and Activism Through Art, referring to a man who was shot in the back seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin. “With our club being pretty art focused, we definitely wanted to speak out about it.”
The club, which organized the event, moved from being an exclusively digital, online platform to hold the protest. Black Lives Matter art was encouraged, but the group was there to help with ideas.
“It’s completely peaceful,” De Guzman said. “There’s no march going on but … we have all materials for people to make signs that they can either bring home with them for them to hang in their house or outside … or take to protests and then … if they want to give the signs to us, we will be offering them to businesses downtown.”
De Guzman is autistic and said that protests can bother her.
“I wanted something that was a bit more accessible for those who either just like to express themselves through art, just something a little more lowkey, or like me have a physical or neurological disability where it might impair them from going and marching with others,” she said.
Donations were accepted and put toward I Believe in Me, a Frederick non-profit.
When people see the art that will be given to businesses downtown, De Guzman said she hopes people are reminded that “this is not a trend and it’s not over.”
“There are still so many black lives out there who are at the mercy of the police and it’s still an ongoing fight,” she said.
It’s also important that people remember that art plays an important role in every part of our lives, including change, she said.
Leigh Plugge of Mount Airy came to the protest to support De Guzman and the cause.
“It’s really important to me,” she said.
When people see the art dispersed by COATA, Plugge said she hopes people will start listening more.
“Instead of just like one sided opinions about things, that they listen to other people’s stories,” she said.
Phoenix Cardwell of Middletown said she cares about the movement and believes it should be important to everyone.
“What we see on the TV is pretty horrific and I think that change has needed to come for a long time and this time things definitely feel like change is coming and I think it’s important for all of us to back that,” she said.
Cardwell also said she would give her artwork to COATA and hopes that when people see the artwork they see a peaceful way of protesting.
“There’s so many rumors about more violent protesting, so I hope that it helps push that narrative more and I hope that … our art just kind of is a reminder that this movement still is going and it’s not time to stop,” she said.