Trumbull protest vigil set for Saturday

TRUMBULL — Thinking about the death of George Floyd, Joy Colon said her feelings were familiar to people of color and hard to put into words for those who weren’t.

“It’s this concept of grief and fear that we’re expected to swallow,” she said Thursday. “It’s been part of a complex story for generations among people of color, and that other groups have been living unaware of.”

Colon is one of the organizers and a featured speaker at Saturday’s protest vigil at the Trumbull Town Hall gazebo. The vigil, from 11 a.m. to noon, will include about a half-dozen speakers. Following the speaking program, attendees will be encouraged to leave the green to go enjoy time with their families.

As she tried to put her thoughts into words, Colon said she began feeling a tightness in her chest, like she was having trouble breathing. But the Town Council’s only African American member said she simply couldn’t not speak out.

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Local upcoming protests

Bridgeport: An in memoriaum gathering at Ellsworth Park in Black Rock at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

Derby: A unity rally on the Derby Green at 7 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

Trumbull: A protest vigil at the Trumbull Town Hall gazebo from 11 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 6.

Westport: A rally at the bridge across from 1 Parking Harding Plaza at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, June 5.

“Every time I think about what to say, I kind of hold my breath. But I can’t hold my breath any longer,” she said. “Avoiding challenging topics is not the solution. If we have anything to learn, it is that silence won’t protect me, or anyone else.”

The support she has received from the community has been staggering, she said. Since the protest vigil was announced on social media, people have been contacting her to voice their support.

“I just got another message from a Trumbull woman, she said ‘I don’t know you but I’ll be there Saturday to show my support,’” Colon said.

Colon said it was the growing willingness of people — especially young people — to speak out that gave her hope and confidence for the future. Of the half-dozen people who will offer their remarks Saturday, two are students and the others, herself included, are the parents of youngsters.

“It’s the children that are pushing this,” she said. “In many ways the younger generations are more enlightened than their parents.”

Fellow Town Council member Ashley Gaudiano, a co-organizer of Saturday’s protest, said the event was a chance for people to come together in unity and grieve for the lives lost.

“It’s phenomenal to see the people come together,” she said. “The response has been great.”

And the sense of togetherness is what Colon said she valued most of all.

“We’re not ‘they’ or ‘them,’” Colon said in reference to social media posts about protests where posters had asked what “they” want. “We are your neighbors, your teachers, your police officers. That’s who we are.”