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Hancock County News

Fortville BLM protest

For Ashleyy Mariee, enough was finally enough.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death, Mariee knew it was time to get involved and do something.

But what?  After thinking it over, Mariee decided to hold a peaceful protest in Fortville, where she lives.


“I have a few reasons why I decided to take that leap and organize a peaceful demonstration because I’m simply tired. I’m tired of seeing the injustice on television every day in front of my eyes, actually going through the injustice myself,” she told Giant FM.


Mariee told Giant FM that part of her struggle involves her time in Fortville, where she heard racial slurs and admitted to feeling targeted by police.


“I couldn’t have a friend of color come into this town without feeling unsafe. I, myself, felt uncomfortable and unwanted. I knew I wasn’t the only one who felt this way,” Mariee said.

After deciding on what to do, she began trying to convince friends to get involved.


“I was talking to a Caucasian friend of mine the day before the demonstration, who didn’t totally agree with what I stood for or what I was reposting on social media. After explaining and doing his own research, he had a complete change of mind. He was so moved and hurt by everything that’s going on that he put in the effort to help make the flyer for the protest. That right there gave me the inspiration and motivation to set up a peaceful protest here in Fortville. Chastity Despain played a major part, as well, on helping me get everything together. She was my voice to the community, and she really helped make it happen,” Mariee said.


While many protests have featured demonstrations against police or have seen demonstrators and police clash, such was not the case for Mariee’s, which had the support of Fortville police chief Bill Knauer.


“Chief was very quick to respond to my request of supporting this peaceful demonstration. It was amazing to be able to see eye to eye with someone I felt unsafe around. He’s actually an amazing guy, very genuine about his community and police department. He wants change as well, and I can see it,” she told Giant FM.


Knauer also was vocal about the demonstration.


In a Facebook post, Knauer wrote that there is not one member of the Fortville Police Department that condones what happened in Minneapolis to Floyd. He also wrote that he believed the incident and ensuing fallout was race related.


“For so many years, the black community has been treated unfair… Please rest assure, that as long as I’m your Chief, everyone, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, anybody will be treated with respect and professionalism by this department,” Knauer wrote.


With the protest behind her, Mariee tells Giant FM she has only begun.


“My next step is to continue the unity in this community and spread light and knowledge on the surrounding towns/cities. This march was big for Fortville and its community. I appreciate this town so much more and am just focused on making it better and doing whatever I can to make it better,” she said.