Hundreds of Shakopee High School students participated in a walkout in solidarity against racial injustice on Tuesday, April 20.

Shakopee senior Eliana Ofori shouted into a speakerphone with a commanding voice that hushed the hundreds of students around her, many of whom wore black and held signs condemning racial injustices.

“If justice doesn’t come now, when? If you don’t do it, who will? It all starts with you,” Ofori said. “Educate the people around you. Tell them what they’re saying is wrong. My injustice is not a joke. People will laugh about racial slurs and racial injustices. Tell them that’s wrong.”

When a truck repping a Blue Lives Matter flag rumbled in the parking lot just yards away from the demonstration, the crowd became unsettled, mumbling and pointing toward the driver. Ofori quickly won back the attention of the crowd.

“Why are you worried about them?” she yelled. “They’re just here to get a reaction.”

The walkout remained peaceful and organized, with several speakers who offered their perspectives on what it meant to be a Black student at Shakopee High School. The walkout, which also included a three-minute moment of silence, happened just hours before a guilty on all counts verdict was reached in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd.

Ofori, who helped organize the walkout with several of her peers, said afterward she was pleasantly surprised with the turnout of the event.

“I expected maybe about 100, 200 kids,” Ofori said. “I didn’t expect half the school to show up. The amount of support was really beautiful. It shows we are actually being heard.”

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.