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Flexing First Amendment rights; protesting amid those celebrating independence

Women advocating for women’s rights riding horses in Monday’s July Fourth parade.
Garrett Reese
Women advocating for women’s rights riding horses in Monday’s July Fourth parade.

The Yellow Springs Fourth of July parade took place Monday afternoon.

As the parade made its way through downtown, playing music and throwing out candy, people lined the streets.

Many are cheering and celebrating the holiday and their town’s parade.

However, in the face of recent unpopular rulings by the Supreme Court and the recent release of bodycam footage in the shooting of Jayland Walker, some were protesting.

Dr. Lori Askeland is a professor at Wittenberg University. She was wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt and holding a sign. One side advocated for women’s rights and legal abortion; the other demands justice for Jayland Walker.

“There's a famous speech by Frederick Douglass called What to the Slave is the 4th of July,” she said. “The 4th of July has never included everyone. It never meant independence for everyone. But it should be a day to declare independence and interdependence.”

Askeland was not alone in this thinking. Many individuals, while frustrated and angry about recent events, still expressed a desire for people to learn from what’s going on and to come together once and celebrate.

“I think it should be an opportunity for people to make themselves aware, educate themselves about what’s going on in the country and, you know, get out there and do something about it,” said Todd Kreeger, a Yellow Springs resident.

“I think the Fourth of July should be a celebration of our country and our citizenship and our freedoms,” said Luan Heit, who was visiting her friend Mary Cargan, a Yellow Springs resident. “In spite of differences we have, today is a day for us to all come together and celebrate the United States of America.”

Garrett is a WYSO intern and graduate of University of Dayton. He spent time covering the Dayton area with WDTN Channel 2 News after the 2019 Memorial Day Tornado outbreak. It was around this time that he began listening to NPR and fell in love with radio-based journalism. Garrett graduated from UD in May of 2021 with his Bachelor’s in Communications with a focus in journalism and graduated in May of 2022 with his Master’s. While not working at WYSO, Garrett is an avid reader, loves to play video games, and hanging out with his friends.