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Group plans Westminster march, rally in pursuit of ‘some positive change’

A group of community members called Coalition Against Prejudice has been anchored at the Westminster library branch for several weeks now, encouraging anyone who sees its signs and messages to pay attention and help spread the message.

CAP is also getting ready for a much larger event, one that group leader Robert Roys said he hopes turns more than a few heads. The Coalition Against Prejudice movement is set to arrive at City Hall in Westminster on Aug. 1 as part of the National March for Black Lives, which is protesting violence against Black people, including from law enforcement.

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Roys, a Westminster resident for the past 10 years, said the goal is to bring more awareness to the many human and civil rights issues that exist in the country.

“We want to get a bunch of people together and we want to show everyone in the community that we’re here,” he said. “That we’re here for you, that we’re fighting for you. We want to educate the people.”

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Roys and his wife Emily are joined by CAP core members Lauren Cassell, Jason Lafleur, Tarin Mclean and Mike O’Brien. They’ve been spotted along Main Street in Westminster, in front of the library, for much of the past few months. Roys said his CAP group tries to demonstrate there six days a week.

“We’re not just out there holding signs. We have some other initiatives,” Roys said. “We’re trying to collaborate with other activist groups within Carroll County. We’re trying to get people interested and knowledgeable in local politics. Potentially even find some people interested in running for local politics.

“We also want to make sure that we’re just trying to keep the pressure on for some positive change.”

Roys said the Saturday event is slated to feature some guest speakers from groups such as Carroll Citizens for Racial Equality and the NAACP’s Carroll County chapter. A walking route is planned to weave through downtown Westminster, passing the courthouses and wind up at City Hall on Emerald Lane.

There will also be a voting registration booth for anyone who attends the event, Roys said.

“We just feel that a march and rally is a good way to show that, ‘Hey, we’re here,‘ ” he said.

Carroll has seen its share of demonstrations in recent months, with rallies in support of racial justice and the Black Lives Matter movement taking place throughout the county, including in Westminster. That’s where Roys’ group makes its presence felt. But when attendance numbers dwindled because of other commitments, Roys said his core members made it their goal to keep CAP going strong.

“Getting out in front of the library six days a week is not only keeping that visibility, but we’re also engaging with community members,” Roys said. “We’re meeting a lot of people that we never would have met before. It’s largely positive interactions, with the very few exceptions of some people that, I guess, are so stuck in their ways that they don’t want to come and have any constructive dialogue with us. We are finding that through community engagement we are starting to win people over.”

Roys said he’s expecting a good turnout to the Saturday demonstration. The event is being promoted on social media, and a Facebook event listing shows that hundreds might attend.

The event is designed to draw those who might have driven past the library and wondered if they could join the cause, Roys said. It’s also for people who might wonder why rallies such as this one need to take place and why they do with such frequency.

“The whole idea of ‘Get off my lawn’ is that it is everybody’s lawn,” Roys said. “I think anyone that has ever come and talked to us directly will find we’re the most polite bunch of people you will ever meet. We try to be all-inclusive. That’s how we’re going to make the world a better place. Everyone needs to listen and find the solutions with each other.”

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