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Rockford group working to bridge the gap

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — When it comes to the fight against racism,
Blazey Onyango and Anthony Fort Jr. say there is strength in numbers.

"We need to work together. You need protests and demonstrations, and closed door conversations, you need people trying to create reform," said Anthony Fort Jr., co-founder of Rockford Youth in Action and Empowerment Program.

The two met at a protest in Rockford back in May, but during the protest they said things got out of control and became violent.

"Some people choose to take the more radical approach. It's like 'oh if you are not with us you are against us'," said Fort Jr."

Therefore, they decided to develop a group called 'Rockford Youth in Action,' an organization focused on fighting against racism by bringing different groups and leaders together.

"It's important that all factors are moving and pumped together, like a well oiled machine. You can't have one without the other. So that's where we came in and took a non-violence approach," said Fort. Jr.

Part of that approach is working with city officials and law enforcement to make those changes. It's something they have been doing for the last two months.

"We are proud of the work that Anthony and Blazey are doing. Trying to bring groups together that may have differing opinions, but we also know that there are more pieces of our fabric that pull us together and not a part," said Mayor McNamara.

"Whether you are from Pluto or anywhere. White? Black? Chinese? You have to see yourself as a human being first. If you see yourself as a human being things will work out and you will find yourself in that gap," said Blazey Onyango, co-founder of Rockford Youth in Action and Empowerment Program.

They even took their work to the streets, holding a protest in Rockford back in June.

"There is a lot of people proud of the things that we are doing and the approach we are taking of willing to sit down and have those hard conversations," said Fort Jr.

While they say the changes they want to make won't happen over night, the only way these changes can be made is by people coming together and working in peace and unity.

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Erin Chapman

Erin Chapman is a reporter at WREX. She joined the team in May 2020. Chapman grew up in Indianapolis, Indiana and graduated from the University of Dayton with a degree in Communication in 2020.

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