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Councilmember keeps fist clenched to encourage race-violence conversation

WBFO's Mike Desmond

Common Councilmembers were backing the Masten District's Ulysees Wingo Tuesday, as he again refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and extended his arm with a clenched fist. He then read the names of seven Black men killed by police in the last year.

A large crowd of supporters stood behind the Wingo, holding up their clenched fists. The councilmember is calling for an ongoing community conversation on race and violence, whether national or local. Wingo says this is a tough city for Black people.

"I have children who have to grow up in Buffalo - one of the most racist, segregated cities in the country," Wingo says. "Main Street is the Mason-Dixon Line. You look on a map. You'll see where the banks redline, where they won't send money to, where they won't lend to. Institutionalized racism all over the place. You'll see where there's a lack of police presence on this side of Main Street, versus the other side of Main Street."

Majority Leader David Rivera is a retired police detective sergeant and pastor. Citing the power given to police,

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond

Rivera says there has to be consequences when that power is misused.

"There should be consequences and that's us standing for justice," Rivera says. "I like the reverend who always talk about that verse, 'Seek justice. Love mercy. Humble yourself.' Seeking justice doesn't mean standing by and just waiting. When you see an injustice it means speaking out against that injustice, regardless of who it is."

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.