CINCINNATI — Cries for justice, marches, rallies and 10 days of protests hit one 13-year-old girl right in the heart. It was broken the day Mario Gibbs died in jail.
Years of pain Kimora Coffey kept inside came out in one question written in bold, black ink on the poster she held: “Why didn't my dad's life matter?"
"My dad died of sickle cell while in prison and he didn't get the help that he needed and ended up dying,” said Coffey. "I was around 7.
"I was so confused about what happened because I didn't know he died. I just thought he disappeared for a while. When I got older, I realized I'm never going to see him again, and it just keeps happening these days to where I just really miss him."
We met Coffey and Dahlia Gulley while they were protesting the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. For them, and others, the motivation was deeply personal and life-changing.
Gulley, 26, was out there nearly every night. Her voice carried and begged fellow protesters not to break curfew based on a personal promise from Lt. Col. Paul Neudigate, an assistant police chief.
“I gave them my word that we would not aggressively push the curfew if they would disperse peacefully,” Neudigate told WCPO 9. “I held true to my word. They held true their word. I think this is a great first step."
Gulley said she is normally soft-spoken and usually avoids that kind of public exposure.
"I have really bad anxiety and I have really bad agoraphobia as well, “ she said. “I would not have been able to stand in front of you or talk to you probably three or four days ago.
"So I changed a lot."
That goes for Gulley’s boyfriend Jason, too.
"My girlfriend has opened up my eyes a lot,” said Jason, who was protesting with Gulley. “I had some things to change and I have and I'm out here and fighting for what's right."
"She found her voice, and the promise that the lieutenant colonel made us and kept kind of just emboldened her. I'm proud of her."
While pride is part of each protest, people like Coffey and Gulley sense enough passion to see their cause through.