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Buffalo residents speak about ‘Black Lives Matter’

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Members of Buffalo's African American community are speaking out against the violence in other cities involving blacks and police officers. There is a big concern about the city's youth and some members of Buffalo's community say it should not be a black versus white issue.

“We need to learn to respect our officers,” said

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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Rhonda Lee of Buffalo speaks about Black Lives Matter.

Lee has lived on the city's East Side for more than 40-years. She's been a community activists in the Fillmore District fighting against guns and gang violence.  She's very concerned about inner-city youth and confrontations with police.

“When they come up to you, you need to learn how to obey what they are saying, not give them mouth back and if they are going to arrest you make sure somebody is out here to film what is going on. The biggest weapon we have now is not the guns – it’s our phone – our cell phones is our biggest weapon,” said Lee. 

Lee tells WBFO News she believes it's only a matter of time before there's a major situation in Buffalo.

But George Johnston, President of Buffalo United Front and a member of Buffalo Peacemakers, disagrees. He said he believes the city of Buffalo is better shape when it comes to relationships with police.

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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George Johnston, President of Buffalo United Front & member of Buffalo Peacemakers, at MLK Park with citizens during Black Lives Matter rally.

“I don’t think so, only because our relationship with the police has been pretty decent in terms of knowing that the police department get more involved into our community now. We have a good working relationship, especially with the top brass,” responded Johnston.

There is a strong Black Lives Matter movement in Buffalo.

This woman, who did not want to give her name, said she doesn't want people to react to the word Black Lives as divisive.

“It’s not saying only black lives matter. It’s saying that we also matter and we need support of everyone in the community, not just blacks, not just whites, but everyone needs the support when they see injustice done, so I think a lot of people maybe taking it in a negative way, but that’s not what we are saying,” replied the Buffalo woman. 

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Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley
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These woman gathered at the Black Lives Matter rally at MLK Park.

The hardest part for this Buffalo woman is explaining the divide and violence to her child.

“It’s a very difficult situation to have with someone so young. My kid doesn’t see color. I don’t teach him to see color. It is a shame that where we are in this stage in 2016 that we are still in a place that we have to have this discussion,” said the woman. “What do you tell him?” Buckley asked. “I just tell him to continue to love, but he does need to be aware,” replied the woman. 

“I’m very emotional about all things that have happened. I have a three year old child who is extraordinary lucky to be a white boy,” said Rebecca Schaeffer of Buffalo.

Schaeffer supports the Black Lives Matter movement and appeared at a rally last Friday. She was among a diverse crowd that came together at MLK Park calling for justice and community involvement. 

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Credit WBFO News file photo
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A rally participant holds up a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. at MLK Park in Buffalo.

“Our country listens to white people. We have the power. We can’t expect things to change when only the disempower people speak,” explained Schaefer.  

Peacemaker George Johnston said he believes all lives matter.

“Because just well as your kids and mine kids, they all bleed the same blood – it’s all red and we all spend the same money – it’s all green,” noted Johnston. 

        

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