SOUTHERN TIER. N.Y. (WETM) — Many people throughout the country are expressing their frustration over police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN.
Protests have erupted in cities across the nation—both violent and peaceful. Some of the protests have led to looting and riots that result in the usage of tear gas and rubber pellets. So far, demonstrations throughout the Southern Tier have been peaceful.
“If you do it for the right reasons, it’ll be seen,” said Aisha Smith, one of the peaceful protesters. “It might’ve taken us a couple of days to be seen but you will be seen. Everything is not negative. We have had nothing but peaceful protest and reaction to our protest.”
Smith is a mother of four young black boys and said she fears every time they leave the house.
“I can’t help wonder when they leave my house, if something will happen to them,” Smith said. “So it’s time for us to take charge and make a change.”
One 19-year-old in Watkins Glen is taking a stance for the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I wanted to be active in my community,” said Alec Betts, organizer of a peaceful protest in Watkins Glen. “I wanted to address this situation with all the people in this community and show support for George Floyd and other peaceful protesters in this country.”
Betts said protests are supposed to be peaceful and he does not—and will not—condone any violence.
“If someone wants to come and participate in violence, I will not encourage it,” Betts said. “I will not have it. Not all these protesters are bad, a lot of them are good.”
Protesters are asking people to support the movement and demand for justice. Betts is asking the community to practice their First Amendment Rights and not to be scared to voice your opinions.
“For all you people that aren’t speaking, please voice your concerns,” Betts said. “I don’t care if it’s on Facebook—any social media. Whatever it is, get your voice out there.”
Smith said if something is wrong, people need to use their voices for change.
“If something is wrong… I feel like you have a voice and it needs to be used,” said Smith. “We all matter. Black Lives Matter right now and we need to make that known.”