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Black Lives Matter chapter issues call for unity

A group of activists involved with Black Lives Matter stood at the corner of Genesee and Goodyear Avenue Tuesday evening as cars whizzed by.

Katrina Martin-Bordeux, president of the Buffalo chapter, chose the location for the group’s press conference. The intersection is in the middle of “one of the most impacted communities,” she said, where infrastructure is crumbling and population density is changing.

They also happened to be standing before an old sign for the Goodyear Block Club that bears the words “Working together.”

“That was a nice coincidence,” Martin-Bordeux said. “It goes with our message today.”

The small, quiet affair was a call for togetherness in the wake of a slew of incidents involving protesters and police. Organizers announced upcoming weekly chapter meetings – a new initiative – and reminded the public of its broader societal goals.

Martin-Bordeux read from a statement that said black people have the power to fight for “economic, educational, environmental, housing and criminal justice equity.” She said black lives matter in addition to all lives, and “maybe one day we will not be an addition.”

There was also condemnation of the incidents in Dallas and Baton Rouge in which eight police officers in total were slain while on the job.

Activist Duncan Kirkwood said he was horrified by the violent acts.

“We absolutely denounce that action 100 percent unequivocally,” he said. “That is not what this movement is about in any way ... We would never support someone causing pain in families that we have felt in our families.”

Kirkwood said the group needs to remain loud and persistent in the coming months, making its message of peace clear.

Kirkwood, the former director of Alabama’s Black Alliance for Educational Options, said he will be using his “organizing background” to help bring the movement together. There are plenty of emerging subgroups to manage, he said, with smaller chapters popping up at places like SUNY Buffalo State.

Going forward, he envisions a large and united organization will be able to make a difference.

“We’ve got the energy, we’ve got the passion,” he said. “Now we just need to structure it so we can get the change that we want.”

The first chapter meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday in the St. John Family Life Center, 833 Michigan Ave.


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