CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois football team was supposed to restart practice on Monday following the postponement of the fall season on Aug. 11. Instead dozens of football players, along with other Illini athletes, led a march against racism through the streets of Champaign.
“Practice don’t matter and a football game don’t matter compared to a life being taken away and a life being undervalued,” Illinois senior cornerback Nate Hobbs said. “Ya’ll need to look around, there’s so many different races, so many different colors, so many different people and we’re all out here for a common goal. If we all can keep doing this and bring other people along, that’s how we stop this. That’s how we stop systemic racism, that’s how we stop people getting killed for the color of their skin. Love will always be stronger than hatred.”
The march started outside Memorial Stadium in Grange Grove, then traveled to the Champaign Police Station downtown. After a prayer, moment of silence for police brutality victims, and multiple people speaking to the crowd, the group turned around and headed back to Grange Grove.
“We’re all here today for a common goal, to unify as a community,” event organizer and Illini junior offensive lineman Kendrick Green said. “It’s a real problem in our society that needs to be addressed. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but this is a small step, and a step in the right direction so that’s all we can do.”
“I hope people realize that we’re not about to just shut up and play, and hopefully we get to see who’s here for us and who’s not,” added Hobbs.
Illini senior linebacker Milo Eifler walked in the front line of the march holding a ‘End police violence, BLM’ sign. Illini freshman cornerback Marquez Beason was right next to him with a ‘Don’t love our culture if you can’t love us’ sign.