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Thousands march against police brutality in downtown Syracuse

A massive crowd of protesters gathered in front of Syracuse City Hall on Saturday to rally against police brutality and the oppression of black people. Police were expecting 2,000 people to show up and the protest could have exceeded those numbers. It was organized by Black Lives Matter Syracuse and featured many different speakers. People chanted, “No justice, no peace!” Signs read, “White silence is violence.” And some speakers called for defunding the police department. 

Nitch Jones, a youth pastor in Syracuse, commended the young people for organizing the rally.

“They have called us out here for a purpose,” Jones said. “We have rallied together to tell them that we hear their voices. We stand with them in a time such as this. A time when folks are telling them they have no voice. But the young people have a voice in Syracuse, New York.”

Several speakers called on the Syracuse City School District to end its contract with Syracuse police. Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, the regional director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, said all school resource officers should go.

“We spend 21 percent of the budget in the city of Syracuse, in the city that is the most impoverished for concentrated poverty for blacks and Latinos, to continuously repress black people,” Abdul-Qadir said.

He also talked about his brother being killed to gun violence, but he did not want to confuse that issue with why they are protesting.

“Gun violence exists in an ecosystem of police brutality,” Abdul-Qadir said. “It exists in an ecosystem of constituted poverty. It exists in an ecosystem of oppression. And if we’re going to call out gun violence, get the police out of our communities first. This is about George Floyd, but this is about the systemic oppression of black people in this country.”

Protesters with Last Chance for Change, which have led the daily protests in Syracuse this past week, also spoke and marched around downtown.

Tweets by TomMagnarelli

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.