Protestors bring Black Lives Matter demands to Mayor de Blasio

The organizers and supporters of Upper East Side for Black Lives Matter have held vigils in Manhattan’s Carl Schurz Park for 120 days in a row. They have to spend time before each vigil making and replacing signs that are torn down by neighborhood residents. The Black Lives Matter chapter feels galvanized by supporters who make new signs on their own time, says Alexa Basser, an organizer.

After they provide opening remarks on the continued importance of sitting vigil for Breonna Taylor and others killed by police, the protesters sit in silence with their fists in the air. The silent vigil by the approximately 20 people gathered lasts 8 minutes and 45 seconds, in honor of Taylor who was killed by Louisville, Kentucky, police in March at 8:45 p.m.

When the vigil ends, the microphone is open to community members to speak on topics of their choice. The major topic this Wednesday night in late September was the shooting of Daniel Prude, who was killed by police in March in Rochester, New York.

The protestors march on East End Avenue afterwards. The organizers emphasize the importance of sticking together and not engaging with mostly neutral bystanders on the route with the motto: “Who keeps us safe? We keep us safe.” Marshalls with glowing orange wands surround the group to alert traffic.

The marchers arrive at Mayor Bill de Blasio’s official residence, Gracie Mansion and kneel outside with their fists in the air. The night’s chants — “How do you spell overfunded? NYPD!” — call attention to demands that the protesters have for the mayor.

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Jemma Stephenson grew up in southern Virginia and recently graduated from Smith College
with a degree in English language and literature.
Twitter: @JK_Stephenson

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