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Opinion: Why we march: Protesters share what motivates them

The killing of George Floyd sparked a movement to march against police brutality and racial injustice throughout the country and the world. 

The group Detroit Will Breathe started marching a few days after Floyd's death on May 25, and has been on the streets for 120 days. 

Why are they marching? 

Freelance photographer Nic Antaya sought to answer that question through photographs and their own words. This series of portraits highlights some of the individuals who make up Detroit Will Breathe.

TRISTAN TAYLOR, 37, Detroit

I march because (of) the senseless violence that is perpetrated against Black and brown bodies by the state. The harm and injustice dispensed in this country must end, and I will march until it does.

Tristan Taylor, 37, Detroit
Tristan Taylor, 37, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Tristan Taylor, 37, Detroit, Statement
Tristan Taylor, 37, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

SAMMIE LEWIS, 23, Detroit

I march because I want opportunities for myself, but (also) for the future generations most of all. I march because I owe it to these kids and babies. I march because I believe in change and the power of people. I believe that we have a chance to really make a difference, and we are.

Sammie Lewis, 23, Detroit
Sammie Lewis, 23, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Sammie Lewis Statement
Sammie Lewis Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

BRIAN SILVERSTEIN, 34, Detroit

I fight for Black liberation because it is the fight to liberate all peoples. When we march to defund and abolish the police, we mean an end to profit-driven community safety and slave labor. We mean a redistribution of our resources away from punitive and oppressive policing and into housing, water, health care, and education. By eliminating poverty, we will eliminate the conditions that give rise to desperate acts of survival.

Brian Silverstein, 34, Detroit
Brian Silverstein, 34, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Brian Silverstein, 34, Detroit, Statement
Brian Silverstein, 34, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

FERNANDO WILLIS JR., 26, Detroit

I march for those minorities who do not. Maybe they do not understand its purpose, have obligations that make it impossible to, or have made up their minds not to. We the people here today will not stop fighting against oppressors like Mike Duggan and James Craig until Detroit is free, just, safe, and prosperous for all.

Fernando Willis Jr., 26, Detroit
Fernando Willis Jr., 26, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Fernando Willis Jr., 26, Detroit, Statement
Fernando Willis Jr., 26, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

CLAIRE BOWMAN, 31, Detroit

I march because Black, brown and indigenous people in the U.S. and internationally have always been at the vanguard of revolutionary change, and white allyship is not enough in a moment that calls for militant co-liberalism.

Claire Bowman, 31, Detroit
Claire Bowman, 31, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Claire Bowman, 31, Detroit, Statement
Claire Bowman, 31, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

ALLEN DENNARD, 26, Detroit

Why do I march, you ask? There are many reasons why I choose to go out and put my life on the line on the streets of Detroit, but the biggest reason for me being out there is to show the city, state, nation and the world that there is a bullseye on our head that will never come off, so marching shows the resilience, determination, passion, and resistance towards the injustices that black lives in this country face every day.

Allen Dennard, 26, Detroit
Allen Dennard, 26, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Allen Dennard Statement
Allen Dennard Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

JORDAN WEBER, 26, Warren

I march for justice for our Black family who have died at the hands of police. I march to end the systems in place that oppress Black and brown people around the world. Black lives matter. Free Palestine. End the war in Yemen.

Jordan Weber, 26, Warren
Jordan Weber, 26, Warren
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Jordan Weber, 26, Warren, Statement
Jordan Weber, 26, Warren, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

ETHAN LUCAS, 30, Ann Arbor

I march because I have witnessed black and indigenous people of color be oppressed not because of their character but because of the pigment of their skin for over three decades of my life. I march because, as an ally, I have a privilege based off the color of my skin where I can stand up and fight and know that police are less likely to murder me for doing so.

Ethan Lucas, 30, Ann Arbor
Ethan Lucas, 30, Ann Arbor
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Ethan Lucas, 30, Ann Arbor, statement
Ethan Lucas, 30, Ann Arbor, statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

STEPHAN ROCHE, 21, Detroit

The reasons I am motivated to be present with the march are tied to the interests of a multitude, Black people in America. These people first and foremost are on my mind and conscience with regards to acts of service, protection, education and unification. Our so-called Black people are routinely mistreated, underserved, impoverished, and faced with violence at the hands of capitalism (racialized capitalism) on a daily basis.

Stefán Roche, 21, Detroit
Stefán Roche, 21, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Stef‡n Roche, 21, Detroit, Statement
Stef‡n Roche, 21, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Stef‡n Roche, 21, Detroit, Statement
Stef‡n Roche, 21, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

ADAM DEWEY, 35, Royal Oak

As a freelance photographer, I have come out since the first weekend to document a flashpoint in Detroit's history... While the typical march provides powerful imagery to accompany the written word, capturing these intense moments can lead to accountability... As journalism presents evidence and facts, my job here to to document the truth.

Adam Dewey, 35, Royal Oak
Adam Dewey, 35, Royal Oak
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Adam Dewey, 35, Royal Oak Statement
Adam Dewey, 35, Royal Oak Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

COURTNEY STRANG, 57, Detroit

I march because I am a proud gay man. I like to say Black Lives Matter is the tip of the spear. Oppression in America goes broader and deeper and manifests itself in ways less obvious than police brutality against people of color. I march because, as a gay man my age, I have spent a half century in a society that has not recognized my full dignity and equality. I march because I know that others have faced even greater inequities.

Courtney Strang, 57, Detroit
Courtney Strang, 57, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Courtney Strang, 57, Detroit, Statement
Courtney Strang, 57, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

DEREK GRIGSBY, 63, Detroit

I march to demand justice and equality to all, not only in this state and country, but in the world. The USA is and has been the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, and this fact has been deliberately hidden from a majority of citizens here. Along with the violence is the systemic racism that has been perpetrated against non-white peoples.

Derek Grigsby, 63, Detroit
Derek Grigsby, 63, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Derek Grigsby, 63, Detroit, Statement
Derek Grigsby, 63, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

BRENDAN SCORPIO, 23, Detroit

I march because others can't. I march because there are people who are no longer alive or able to march because of the racist society that we all live in. I march because I have the privilege to go home and "not think about politics," whereas members of historically marginalized communities, specifically Black people, do not have that privilege.

Brendan Scorpio, 23, Detroit
Brendan Scorpio, 23, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Brendan Scorpio, 23, Detroit, Statement
Brendan Scorpio, 23, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

JAE BASS, 25, Detroit

I envision a new normal where my daughter is free to be who she is, free in her own skin. I envision a new normal where Black lives matter. And what I've discovered is the only way to make sure black lives matter in this country is if we collectively come together and make them matter. That is why I march. To stand with my people. To stand for my people.

Jae Bass, 25, Detroit
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit, Statement
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit, Statement
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit, Statement
Jae Bass, 25, Detroit, Statement
Nic Antaya, Special to The Detroit News

Concept and all images created by Nic Antaya, a freelance photographer to The Detroit News.

Digital production by Tom Gromak, The Detroit News