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Protesters gather weekly near mayor’s home to demand police reform

For weeks, a small group of protesters has gathered in Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s neighborhood on weekend mornings to demand police reform in Las Vegas.

“This is kind of a last resort,” said Kenny Fawkes, who has organized the weekend protests for the past month; they began with only him standing and chanting in the neighborhood near Charleston Boulevard and Rancho Drive.

On Saturday morning, about 10 people wearing face masks and holding signs stood in the street in the quiet neighborhood. The turnout was lower this weekend due to the Fourth of July, but up to 20 people have attended the protests in past weeks, Fawkes said.

Wearing a white shirt bearing the phrase “Black Lives Will Always Matter,” Fawkes said protesters have tried to speak to Goodman through phone calls, emails, City Council meetings and demonstrations at City Hall. He said she hasn’t done enough to address police reform in the valley.

“We’re being loud because she’s being quiet,” he said on Saturday.

Fawkes said the group is calling for police reform and defunding, a movement that has gained popularity since the widespread national protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. He said the Metropolitan Police Department’s budget is too large and should be redistributed to other community resources, such as mental health services or housing.

According to records posted to the Metropolitan Police Department’s website, the department’s final budget for fiscal year 2020 to 2021 called for $655,617,383, which is an increase of more than $23 million, or 3.7 percent, from last fiscal year’s budget.

Sam McKellar, wearing a face mask bearing the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” said demonstrating in front of Goodman’s house will hopefully force her to have a conversation with protesters. Fawkes said she has yet to address the group.

McKellar said he attends protests in the valley so his young son won’t face discrimination when he grows up.

“We just want to be treated like everybody else,” said McKellar, who is Black.

Most neighbors who interacted with the group weren’t confrontational, as two Metro officers in police cars watched the protesters from about 100 yards away.

One driver honked his horn in support, while a runner passing by raised his fist in the air. A woman standing outside her home in purple scrubs briefly shouted at the group, while another driver leaned out his window and said, “all lives matter.”

Fawkes said he wants people to continue showing up on Saturday and Sundays from 7 to 9 a.m., “up until the mayor starts really having change.”

“Even if there’s just one person out here, that’s enough,” he said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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