Jun 03, 2021 — It’s been one year since Potsdam Black Lives Matter started holding regular rallies.
To mark the date, the group held a rally and vigil on Tuesday night to launch a month of demonstrations calling for greater police accountability and transparency.
When Jennifer Baxtron started Potsdam Black Lives Matter a few days after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, she was protesting on a street corner alone.
But, by the peak of last summer’s protests over police violence against Black people, hundreds of people marched with her.
A year later on June 1, over 30 people showed up for a rally and vigil. It started, as they always have, in front of the post office in Potsdam. Baxtron said they will be there throughout June.
“It’s important that they see us and hear us every single day,” said Baxtron. “That the message of justice which we need and accountability, they need to see it and hear it every single day. So that’s what we’re going to do.”
The “they” Baxtron refers to are the Potsdam police and other local law enforcement. What started with the killing of George Floyd is now very much about holding the Potsdam Police and others in local law enforcement accountable. She says that includes those on the committee that developed the village police reform plan.
An executive order was signed last June by Governor Cuomo that required all municipal police departments to submit reform plans to the state by April 1. But it remains unclear how police agencies will be held accountable for implementing those plans.
Yengi Rupert Lado and Cody Dominique both question why multiple police cars were necessary when they were stopped for minor issues like a flickering tail light. Lado thinks the police reform process didn’t allow for enough community participation to raise such questions.
Dominique attended the rally with his sister, Natasha, and her toddler.
She said she brings her son because there are lessons she wants him to learn. She has a message for the police, too.
“He needs to grow up knowing that everybody needs to be treated the same, that Black lives matter and we want our uncles to come home every night,” Dominique said.
Baxtron said more people have begun to speak out about police misconduct over the past year but she’s still pessimistic about the future.
“It matters of course, of course, it does but the difference isn’t being felt yet, by people of color here,” she said, letting out a big sigh.
Potsdam BLM has rallies and vigils are planned for every day this month except June 19, when the group will be having its second annual Juneteenth celebration.
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