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1of5 Chandler Hickenbottom, an organizer in Saratoga Black Lives Matter, urged the crowd to stay involved to end racism.Show MoreShow Less
ALBANY – Organizers of a vigil to remember those killed at a Tops grocery store in Buffalo were blunt about the cause of the shooting there last Saturday: White supremacy. Racism.
“We are standing in solidarity with those who have lost their lives to racist pieces of s—,” said speaker Gherian Foster of Schenectady.
As those attending the Townsend Park gathering sang songs, read poetry and chanted, they said nothing would change as long as mass shooters were seen as “lone wolves.”
Instead, white people must take on the task of eradicating racism, said vigil organizer Tabetha Wilson of Albany to the several dozen demonstrators comprising the core of those who turned out on a sweltering afternoon.
“The work has to be shifted to the in-group, to the household,” she said. “We need to have robust discussions about it and robust action.”
Among the actions: be a “racism interruptor,” she said.
“Just as (the shooter) could find everything he wanted on the internet, there’s everything on the other side too,” she said, referring to the kind of information that people can access and be influenced by. “It’s difficult to be a racism interruptor…you may not be racist, but your uncle? Your cousin? Your friend? Seek out information on how to do it, it’s all over the internet.”
Schools also need to educate students, said Samira Sangare, an organizer of Saratoga Black Lives Matter.
“Admit this country was built on slavery and indigenous people so this s— doesn’t keep happening,” she said. “We live in two different Americas, and that’s a fact.”
In addition to calling on white people to face down racism among their own social groups, Black Lives Matter organizers asked the entire Capital Region to come to events calling for change.
“We need to show up,” said Chandler Hickenbottom, an organizer with Saratoga Black Lives Matter. “I need you to show up. You need to do that every day. Because remember, for the Black people, we wake up black every day.”
Organizers also led a chant that went, in part: It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win.
Hickenbottom challenged chanters to tell her what they would do tomorrow, the next day, and on May 25, the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by a police officer in Minneapolis in 2020.
It’s a lot to ask, she acknowledged.
“Specifically my Black people, I know, we tired. We were tired before we were born,” she said. “But this is our fight for our liberation.”
Right now, she said, it’s clear even going to a grocery store to pick up a cake isn’t always safe, remembering Andre Mackniel, who died in Buffalo last week while picking up a birthday cake for his son’s third birthday.
“It could have been us. (The shooter) drove three hours to Buffalo. He could’ve driven two and a half hours to Albany,” she said, adding, “A cake! You can’t even pick up a cake! What type of bull—- is that?!”