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Black Lives Matter crowd urged to go beyond social media

A Black Lives Matter rally was held on Bidwell Parkway in Buffalo's Elmwood Village Wednesday evening.

The protest took place in an area occupied on Saturdays by the Women in Black anti-war protestors. This time it was a far larger group, called by people trying to start a Black Lives Matter chapter here.

They asked people to testify about their knowledge of life and death in this country and how they had been treated by police. One of the organizers of the protest was Acour Mdour.

"We were sad, sad because all this was going to was another hashtag, sad because we felt voiceless," Mdour said. "Then, we were made to see our murderers walk away free, with little to no charges. And then, we were angry. Angry because that's what it means to be a black person in America, a second tier citizen, an inferior human being."

Speakers were of various races, with organizers saying the group was about two-thirds white. Buffalo State student Rachel Orton said the two races treat each other differently.

"How is it that black people can accept white people, but white people can't accept black people?" she asked. "I encourage everyone at this rally to put yourself in the shoes of others, educate one another and especially ask questions. White people will never be truly able to understand because we will never be black, but it is okay to use our privilege to uplift others."

Those at the rally were encouraged to do more than just post their appearance on social media and then move on. Instead, they were asked to act, even write letters to public officials urging them to change society to make opportunity fair and available to all.

Carl Muhammad said young people understand things have to change.

"This is not a race issue. It's an issue about good and evil. Evil is outrunning good. It's a lot of things that's going on out here that evil is trying to paint a good picture of," Muhammad said. "And the young people being out here, they're starting to see and see there has to be a change."

Almost all speakers were supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. There were police and Peacemakers monitoring the event.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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