‘It’s about equality’ says South Okanagan man rallying for Black Lives Matter

Geoff Stathers stands on the Front St. roundabout in Penticton June 3, holding a sign that reads, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ (Phil McLachlan - Western News)Geoff Stathers stands on the Front St. roundabout in Penticton June 3, holding a sign that reads, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
Geoff Stathers stands on the Front St. roundabout in Penticton June 3, holding a sign that reads, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ (Phil McLachlan - Western News)Geoff Stathers stands on the Front St. roundabout in Penticton June 3, holding a sign that reads, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ (Phil McLachlan - Western News)
Geoff Stathers stands on the Front St. roundabout in Penticton June 3, holding a sign that reads, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ (Phil McLachlan - Western News)Geoff Stathers stands on the Front St. roundabout in Penticton June 3, holding a sign that reads, ‘Black Lives Matter!’ (Phil McLachlan - Western News)

It’s nearly lunch time and Geoff Stathers has already been standing at the Front St. roundabout in Penticton for four hours.

He’s holding a sign that reads ‘Black Lives Matter!’ and says he’ll continue to stand there until dark.

Some drivers honk, others wave, and some simply drive past.

“For me, it’s always been about equality,” Stathers said on June 3. “It’s just about people seeing it, and knowing that Canada is not exempt from racism and oppression. We have our own history of oppression that’s lasted for years and years, with Indigenous culture.

“If I can do anything to just kind of promote that all lives in Canada matter, all lives around the world matter, then I will.”

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Growing up in Summerland, Stathers said some of his Indo-Canadian friends felt the same way – that oppression still existed.

“That’s what it’s really all about, is just make sure people feel equal, and when they walk down the street they’re not in fear of being harassed by a police officer just for the colour of their skin.”

Stathers, now living in Penticton, hopes that people will see his message and think about equality on their way to work, or wherever they’re heading.

The roundabout connecting Front St. to Marina Way, Vancouver Ave. and Ellis St. is heavily trafficked, the exact reason Stathers chose it as a place to stand.

Rather than just post about the #blacklivesmatter movement on social media, Stathers, who removed himself from all social media platforms some time ago, felt it necessary to be visible in public.

“I think it’s really important that people at least get out and see the message.”

Stathers is standing alone for now, and says he’s not intimidated, but does worry about the spread of COVID-19.

“When it comes to protesting, if people are doing it in groups, I just hope they’re separate and they’re all wearing masks. That’s one of the most important parts; if people are rallying and protesting, to do it right and in a safe way,” he said.

“We want to avoid a second wave, and we want to avoid anyone getting hurt.”

Stathers welcomed others to join him, but said they will disperse around the roundabout to maintain their distance from each other.

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@PentictonNews
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