KINGSTON – Motorists on Broadway were
confronted by dozens of activists Saturday afternoon who rallied outside
Kingston City Hall in support of Baltimore brutality victim Freddy Grey,
who died in police custody earlier this week.
Six Baltimore police officers have been charged with murder in the incident,
which resulted in public unrest and emergency curfews in Maryland.
The peaceful Kingston event, organized by End the New Jim Crow Action
Network (ENJAN), was marked by chants, placards, and a giant puppet show.
Most of the participants were white, although the crowd consisted of all
ethnic groups. Nearby, a pair of cops on bike patrol observed from a careful
Ulster County residents line Broaday in Kingston
“We’re rallying here to show our solidarity,” said
Kingston civil rights activist Ismail Shabazz, who heads the local chapter
of Black Panthers for Social Justice. “We’re glad we have
a number of people here, because they understand that black lives matter,”
“This issue is not an issue that has just come up, but has been
an issue for over 400 years, where our people were enslaved,” noted
Pastor Doris Edwards of Riverview Missionary Baptist Church. She said
that the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. would have been disappointed
to see how society has “slipped back into a mindset of injustice.”
Shabazz: “black lives matter”
Rally included large puppet
Pastor Dhasan McComb of New Beginnings Church agreed. “It’s
a shame that when a black man comes into the neighborhood, and has to
worry about getting pulled over by the police, he’s afraid of being
shot,” McComb said. “We’re not rioting, but we are protesting
for justice, for the lives of men who have gone, and the lives of men
who may get shot in the future,” he said. “We ask that you
stand with us, walk with us, protest with us, and go against the forces
that seek to hurt people,” McComb added.
“They’re not angry, but they’re upset that these police
abuses are still happening,” said ENJAN spokesman Odell Winfield.
“We have met with the police chief and the mayor, and they’re
receptive to what we’re saying,” he said. A second public
forum led by local ministerial alliance takes place June 9 at New Progressive
Baptist Church in Kingston.