‘I’m going to stand out here until I see some sort of change’

Kaitlyn Scoville / The Advance-Titan — Christian Leiske holding up two of his signs as he protests outside his home.

Kaitlyn Scoville / The Advance-Titan — Christian Leiske holding up two of his signs as he protests outside his home.

Kaitlyn Scoville, Copy Desk Chief and Writer

Across the street from Bob’s Mini Mart on Ohio Street, a man stands outside holding “Black Lives Matter” posters for cars passing by.

That man is 24-year-old Christian Leiske, who doesn’t let house arrest deter him from protesting on one of the busiest streets in Oshkosh.

People honked their car horns as they drove by, all of which were accompanied by the drivers or passengers giving a thumbs up out the window or a nod in solidarity.

Christian didn’t have the greatest childhood. He grew up in the lower class and bounced from house to house in Neenah, Milwaukee and everywhere in between. At one point, his father didn’t even have a home.

“My people didn’t have anything; we were poor, and the police always treated us as that,” Christian said.

He lived in what he considered “ghetto” communities, where he also resided and made friends with Hispanic, black and biracial people.

Run-ins with the police were a regular event in Christian’s past, including altercations with himself, his mom and his brother.

“The police would pull us over for having an air freshener in our window, just in the mirror, just to have a reason to pull us over,” Christian said. “That’s why to this day, my family, we don’t drive with nothing hanging in our mirror because that was their way of pulling you over so they can harass you.”

The Black Lives Matter protests hit Christian close to home because of his past and because of his family. He has nieces who are biracial, and he doesn’t want them to feel unsafe while they’re growing up.

After having attended some protests following George Floyd’s death, Christian was put on house arrest for other reasons. But his house was located in just the right spot to continue doing what he feels is necessary.

Passersby pull over, stop biking or stop walking to talk to Christian about what he’s doing. Others have even hugged him, telling him that they don’t see things like this often.

“[People] stop, give me hugs and say, ‘I love you.’ That’s why I do it,” Christian explained.

Sometimes though, there are people who disapprove of Christian’s protests and vocalize or show it.

“How can this sign, ‘No justice, no peace,’ bring that much hate to your heart that you got to flip me off or call me a name or say something rude?” Christian asked. “How is that? You have that much pain?”

Kailtyn Scoville / The Advance-Titan — Trevor Hansen, left, and Christian Leiske stand outside Leiske’s house on Ohio Avenue protesting for Black Lives Matter.

Christian is not protesting alone though. Some people, like Trevor Hansen, protest with him as much as they can.

“Nobody should die like that — it doesn’t matter — it’s not even a race thing at that point,” Hansen said. “I’m just hoping to change minds, to look people in the face when they go by, show them the sign and say, ‘Hey, this is a thing,’ to consider.”

Trevor said he came across Christian’s protest one day as he was passing by and heard Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech playing through Christian’s speaker. After that, Trevor tried to join Christian as much as he could.

Christian said some people stand with him for as little as half hour to an hour before going to work or having other things to do. He understands that people get busy, but he doesn’t want the ideas and purpose of the protests to die down until he sees real change.

“Everyone just stops and forgets and then it happens again,” Christian said.

He hopes that in the future, as he continues protesting, more people will join him.

“I’m going to stand out here until I see some sort of change,” he said.