MASSENA — Black Lives Matter Potsdam has planned a peaceful march starting at Emmanuel Congregational United Church of Christ, 39 W. Orvis St., Massena at 2:30 p.m, Saturday.
The “March to Protect Black Lives” is in response an incident earlier this week when a noose as found in the yard of a Black family in Massena. Organizers say it’s to show their support, demand justice and bring awareness to the community that racism is not going to be accepted.
“The purpose of the march is to stand with the family that went through that and to bring awareness, attention and education to the community about the racism that’s going on here. Hopefully we can get people to not only participate in Saturday’s events, but to continue throughout their lives,” said Jennifer Baxtron, leader of Black Lives Matter Potsdam.
Participants are scheduled to march the block from the church to the Massena Police Department.
“We may also be stopping at the high school,” Ms. Baxtron said.
She said students needed to be educated on racial intolerance.
“That’s where a lot of the problems lie,” Ms. Baxtron said.
She said Black Lives Matters Potsdam has held nightly rallies in Potsdam. The participants include the BLM team, as well as anyone else who wants to join, which varies in number.
To date, they’ve held more than 70 peaceful and socially-distanced events, including the daily vigils in the village, a Juneteenth picnic, five marches and rallies, and a community meeting.
“We’ve had many marches. Our intention is peace only,” she said.
Now they’re turning their attention to Massena because of the noose incident, as well as Canton, where racist chalk messages were found Wednesday.
The march is open to everyone.
BLM Potsdam organizers have been helping the Massena family impacted by the noose incident.
“Leaving a noose in the yard of a Black family is a clear and dangerous threat. It is an act of the ongoing racism that exists deeply here in St. Lawrence County. It is past time for this hate that is exposed daily to stop,” Ms. Baxtron said.
The march will follow a “North Country Forum on Racial and Economic Justice” that begins at noon at the church. That’s organized by the North Country Poor People’s Campaign.
“At this forum, we will be asking speakers and participants, ‘Why do you support Black Lives Matter?,’ and focus on the need for all dispossessed, exploited and oppressed people to come together in solidarity with the BLM movement,” organizer Jamey Merkel said.
Like the march, the forum is open to everyone. Masks and social distancing must be observed at both events.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is a rebirth of the movement begun in 1967 by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. just before his assassination.