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Letter: Great local leadership yields peaceful protests

Great local leadership yields peaceful protests

The News recently covered violent protests resulting from police misconduct in Baltimore. In Buffalo, protests have been peaceful but people need to know the reason why and what is being done behind the scenes to prevent injustice and violent protests.

During a December Buffalo Common Council meeting, South District Council Member Christopher Scanlon inappropriately stated local leaders were inciting protesters during peaceful “I Can’t Breathe” protests and that violence against police officers would eventually happen here. His chilling remark made me think back to another era. That same kind of ignorance and fear of peaceful protesters led to the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights freedom workers.

On May 3, before traveling to Baltimore to join a peaceful rally, Council President and Bishop Darius G. Pridgen invited uniformed police officers, the Coalition of Concerned Clergy and members from Peacemakers and Stop the Violence Coalition to True Bethel Baptist Church. He preached a sermon, “kNOw Justice, kNOw Peace” and said police need to understand and not fear frustrated, concerned citizens and the community needs to stop fearing the police. Pridgen donated the church youth offering to the Stop the Violence Coalition, and asked all police officers and children to come forward. The children met and shook the hands of the officers. He did this to teach children not to fear the police or run away when they see an officer. The Rev. James A. Lewis III and Pridgen then prayed for peace.

It is not “luck” that Buffalo has peaceful protests. Daily, local clergy, community organizations and politicians work together in the community. Through workshops, forums, Sunday sermons and prayer, they effectively reach thousands and teach nonviolent approaches to justice. Thanks to their leadership, Buffalo understands justice and understands peace.

LaVinia G. Hairston