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Council staffers, activists protest against excessive force by police

Buffalo Common Council staffers and local activists held a peaceful protest on the steps of City Hall Wednesday. The rally is in response to the lack of indictments in both Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and was inspired by the recent walkout of congressional staff and a demonstration by New York City Council members.

The event included a moment of silence for Brown and Garner and the singing of

“A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. Protesters are calling on the City of Buffalo to engage residents in developing a plan that reduces crime and builds mutual trust between citizens and law enforcement.

Council staffer Harper Bishop says the intention of the gathering was to stand in solidarity with people of color and publicly acknowledge that their lives matter.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO
Buffalo Common Council staffers put their hands up as part of protest.

“We walk out of City Hall today, because business cannot continue as usual. We walk out, because it is the right thing to do. We walk out to bend the arch of justice. We walk out, because we believe in accountability. We walk out because we refuse to condone racist violence,” said Bishop.

Protestor John Washington is with PUSH Buffalo. He says the rally is meant to send a message that excessive force by police officers will no longer be tolerated.

“I hope that this walk out and this statement is a commitment to address those issues, a commitment to change the conditions that create instances like Michael Brown and Eric Garner, a commitment to make a statement that racism in the city of Buffalo is unacceptable,” said Washington.

Washington says it’s time for change and that begins with economic equality. He says more educational and job opportunities will reduce violence and create a more just society.

Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, and Councilmember’s David Rivera, Rasheed Wyatt, and Michael LoCurto also participated in the demonstration.