O’FALLON, Mo. – The day after hundreds of people marched on a busy O’Fallon, Mo. street, Jalen Thompson was worried he was going to be fired from the fast-food restaurant where he worked.
The protest ended right near his place of employment. Jalen says when he showed up for work the next day, his boss wanted to see him. But Jalen was surprised when his boss said he was proud of him.
“Seeing that it in person for him, kinda flipped the switch on,” said Thompson about his bosses reaction.
Thompson said his boss realized people were just upset and needed to be heard, not create violence.
The teenager, who is going to college for music education next fall, said he and his friends decided to have the protest as they started thinking about going off to school next year.
“It is really horrifying to me that that could be me at some point in my life,” said Thompson.
He said people really weren’t talking about racial inequality and the impact of George Floyd’s death in O’Fallon while about 30 minutes away in parts of St. Louis County and City, people were in the middle of the issue.
He told FOX2Now he’s been given so many chances to better himself and others and says the people that do have opportunities should be doing more to help the people that don’t.
“We shouldn’t be the ones saying this isn’t our problem, we should be the ones making it our problem, so those that have less of a voice could be heard,” said Thompson.
Thompson and his friends put out a message about the protest and he said it quickly grew. That’s when the police reached out to him about taking part in the march.
“The idea of having police being a part of it isn’t so much so we can say we support the police, it is almost a stab at the people who were saying all of the riots were violent,” explained Jalen.
Young people have been on the forefront of many of the protests. Thompson says that is for several reasons. One being social media. Young people don’t have to wait to see it on the news, they can see it right away on their phones.
He also is looking forward to voting for the first time this fall.
“People that don’t have to worry about the future as much as we do are often the ones putting people into power, and that is something that needs to change,” said Thompson.