An act of vandalism attempted to silence the voice of one of Stoughton’s black residents.
Instead, it only amplified it.
Dominique Johnson had a Black Lives Matter sign on her front law for a single night before someone took it from her yard and placed it on her front porch.
That sparked Johnson to start a fundraiser to flood the city with signs supporting black communities. Her initial goal was $500 – in less than 24 hours, she raised $3,900.
That number then mobilized Johnson to raise the goal to $10,000. She has been in contact with alders and business owners to see what can be done to make Stoughton a more welcoming City for people of color including community forums, events and even a physical space for nonprofit work.
As of Monday, the fundraiser has made more than $7,200.
One week after Minnesota man George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes – which cut off Floyd’s ability to breathe, based on an autopsy ordered by his family. Johnson said she sat in her lawn near Stoughton High School feeling like she was in a weird dream — she saw no Black Lives Matter signs or protesters in Stoughton’s streets – even though people in 150 cities around the nation have. So Johnson created her own BLM yard sign with her 6 year old biracial daughter, only to find it face down on her front porch the next day.
Johnson said the move struck a large nerve with her.
“I felt like this was an attempt to silence us,” she told the Hub. “I felt like you didn’t want to hear my voice. Maybe this is why there’s no signs in town. Maybe it’s not because it’s the friendly neighborhood where we’re going to talk to each other, regardless. Maybe you don’t want to hear that voice from me.”
Three additional Minneapolis police officers who were involved in Floyd’s arrest over the alleged use of a counterfeit bill on Monday, May 25, have since been charged, with the officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck having his charge upgraded to second-degree murder.
Eight days after Floyd died — Johnson had the sign removed from her yard, which spurred her to create the fundraiser.
“A fire has been lit inside of me and I want your help,” Johnson wrote in the GoFundMe description. “I want to flood Stoughton ... with ally signs,”
She initially set a goal of $500, to purchase enough signs for the people in her neighborhood.
Johnson, who moved to Stoughton three years ago and works at the Sun Prairie High School as a youth advocate helping students navigate school and home life, said she will purchase as many signs as needed and any extra funding will be used to make Stoughton a more welcoming place for people of color.
“I know having a 6 year old, she would love to go to an event in the summertime where they play music and she gets to see other people that look like her,” Johnson said. “We have Syttende Mai, and maybe we should represent and explore other cultures in our neighborhood.”
In the future, Johnson hopes that soon she will look around her neighborhood, which is one of a few diverse neighborhoods in the City, and sees signs of solidarity all around her.
“Our community has been in need of more black representation for years, she wrote on the fundraising page. “Thanks to all of you we are creating that space.”