Youngstown community activist tries keeping the peace by walking alongside protesters

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Derrick McDowell wanted to make sure his people were heard

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Some are crediting several people for keeping Sunday’s protest in Youngstown under control. One of those people is community activist Derrick McDowell.

As peaceful protesters marched around the city Sunday afternoon, one man was there every step of the way.

“You rooted for what this cause is about: justice. That black lives matter. That I get to make sure that I can go home to my wife and four kids tonight,” he said at the protest.

McDowell was making sure his people were heard.

“I cannot watch us self-destruct in this moment, so I will be here all night, all day tomorrow and the next day. I give my life to this city,” McDowell said.

The community activist kept his word. He and other leaders even stepped in to block people trying to vandalize the Choffin Career and Technical Center after the peaceful protest ended.

Around 8:30 p.m., those protestors moved to Interstate 680, shutting it down for nearly 20 minutes. McDowell was there too, talking to people and getting the crowd to keep moving.

“I’m trying to understand it for law enforcement and what they have to do to maintain law and order… and try and maintain and protect and serve the responsibility that they have. But I’m also trying to understand this generation and the youth and the people that are out here — they have a perspective, they have a right to be heard,” McDowell said.

As the protesters moved back into the city, the 8:30 p.m. curfew was already in place. That’s when things started to get a little more heated.

But as he promised his people, McDowell was right there with them.

“Until we all get to see that we are heard, I’ll do whatever it takes… So I apologize if I’m out here past that 8:30 p.m. curfew because I’m trying to make sure that we take this and we run with it for Youngstown in a positive way,” he said.

McDowell talked with a Youngstown police officer for a few minutes, who explained that he understands both sides.

“We accomplished what we wanted to, we just don’t want to see the message being diluted from this nonsense,” the officer said.

“I don’t know what I did right if anything tonight, but I’m just telling you, I’m willing to put my life on the line for every single person here — you and him and every one of them,” McDowell said.

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