'If it takes the protesting for change to happen, let's see it through'

Last Thursday night, a little after midnight, Angela Meleca and her family were awakened by repeated explosive thuds outside of their Downtown home on State Street, less than a block from Capitol Square.

The family knew there were protests happening, and throughout the day could hear the sounds of chanting, sirens, a police helicopter and cracks and bangs, especially as the evening wore on.

But it wasn't until Meleca received a call from a friend the next morning that she realized the sound had been the shattering of the street-level glass doors and windows at the front of the home. Meleca and husband David live with their two children above a commercial space that housed Angela Meleca Gallery for almost seven years, along with office space for David, an architect. In addition to the damage, the Melecas had bikes, art and other items taken from the first floor, which has led to difficult family conversations.

"Here's a middle-aged white woman having the opportunity to teach my white children, yet again but differently this time, about the depth of racism in this country,” said Meleca, now executive director of Ohio Citizens for the Arts. "We have privilege. Our kids know about George Floyd. We talk about hundreds of years of systemic racism. But what is there to say about what happened [to their home]? I can't say anything. It doesn't compare to George Floyd getting murdered, or Ahmaud [Arbery]. There's not much to be said against generations of injustice."

"So when my daughter says something like, 'Why did this happen to us?' I tell her, 'People are hurt and angry,'" Meleca continued. "It's a shame, yes, that we will have boards up for maybe a month or more before we can get new windows. It's uncomfortable that we had stuff stolen and glass broken. But I can't imagine having to worry about my son every time he walks outside. We're hopeful there's a message being heard and that some change for the better can come from all of this.”

Amid the anxiety, Meleca said that she does see hopeful signs, from the multiracial makeup of the gathered protesters to the occasional out-of-the-limelight interaction between demonstrators and law enforcement.

"There's a desire to make our country better,” she said. “If it takes the protesting for change to happen, let's see it through.”