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Speakers announced for Monday’s Ironton Unity March

On Monday, community members and the members of the Ironton city government will be having a march in honor of George Floyd and Ironton resident, Guy Thomas.

The Ironton Unity March is being put on by the City of Ironton, Young Brilliantaires and the Ironton Police Department.

Antonio Murphy is with Young Brilliantaires, a group that formed five years ago to make an impact on the community. They have food drives, including a Thanksgiving one, give out hot meals on Thanksgiving and get Christmas gifts for the students at the Open Door School.

They are part of the Ironton Unity March because “we want to bring notice to social justice and we want to bring everyone together. We all know what is going on right now,” Murphy said. “Ironton is a community and we already know each other. You go to the Ironton schools, we all meet and we all grow up together.”

He said they want to set the mood for Ironton and show that it can be a peaceful march.
“We aren’t going to go out there and vandalize things, we aren’t going to go out there and do any of that,” Murphy said. “We just want to show our appreciation of Mr. Floyd and Mr. Guy Thomas, who is my cousin. And we want to raise awareness.”

The Young Brilliantaires didn’t have to partner with the City of Ironton or the Ironton Police Department, all they needed was a parade permit.

But Murphy said they were willing to be partners because they wanted to help out.
“We are all in this for the same reason, so why not?” he said, adding they are working with another group of leaders to make the event even better.

Ironton Police Chief Pam Wagner said they wanted to partner with the groups “because we don’t want people to think that we are like the bad police officers.

“We set the standard, we work with our community, we have a good community,” she said. “We want people to know we stand with them and we are here with them.”

She added they understand the concerns and are reviewing some things. She said she met the other day with a committee that she hopes will meet every month.

“We would like to put on events and put stuff together so everyone knows that we are here for them,” Wagner said.

Murphy emphasized that this event will be a peaceful unity march, not a protest.
“I don’t even like the word ‘protest,’ that’s not what this is about,” Murphy said. “I’m not worried about that because we have a lot of good people here and they know what this is all about.”
Participants in the march will gather starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Rotary Fountain at Center and Third streets in downtown Ironton.

“I wanted to make it there because there is a lot of parking,” Murphy said.

Everyone is invited and encouraged to participate, but people are advised to remember we are still in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and are encouraged to social distance and wear protective face masks near other people. If you are sick, please stay home and participate online.

The march will start at 6 p.m. and will head toward the floodwall and then to banks of the Ohio River.

There will be several speakers including Murphy, Ironton Mayor Sam Cramblit, Ironton resident Robert Pleasant, Ironton resident Cameron Miller, First Baptist Church pastor Rev. Eric Barnes, Lawrence County resident Daniel Murphy, Ironton resident Kristen Martin, Ironton resident Susan Taylor, Quinn Chapel AME Church pastor Rev. Margaret Tyson, Wagner, and Lily Thomas, Kylie Thomas and Hannah Thomas-Jacobs speaking on behalf of the Thomas family.

After the speeches, a memorial wreath will be put in the river in honor of Thomas, who was a U.S. Navy veteran.

On March 8, 2008, the body of 45-year-old Thomas was found in the parking lot of the Ironton Police Department underneath the cruiser of officer Richard Fouts. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene. Fouts was accused of dragging Thomas 10 blocks from near the Ninth Street playground on that snowy night. Thomas was pronounced dead at the scene.

George Floyd died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer put his knee on the handcuffed man’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. A viral video of his death has led to protests against police brutality as well as marches across the country.

Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who put his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Three other officers who were on the scene, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, were charged with aiding and abetting in the killing of Floyd. Lane and Keung had only been on the job for four days.

All four have been fired from the police department and are in jail.

According to the Associated Press, if convicted, Chauvin faces a maximum of 40 years in prison on the murder count and 10 years for manslaughter. Under Minnesota law, aiding and abetting second-degree murder is tantamount to a second-degree murder charge, so Thao, Lane and Kueng face the same potential penalties as Chauvin if convicted.

The Ironton Tribune will livestream the Ironton Unity March on its Facebook page.