BUFFALO, NY (WKBW) — “No one knows what it's like to be a black man unless you are a black man, but I know that there are white people that aren't racist and I know all police officers aren't bad,” declared Ken Stephens, Buffalo Peacekeepers, Stop the Violence Coalition.
Peaceful protesters have been trying to get their message out at demonstrations in Buffalo, but violence erupted over the weekend and Monday.
Monday night a protest began in Niagara Square and then a march was held into a Buffalo neighborhood.
These protests are part of a nationwide effort to bring awareness and prompt change in wake of the death of George Floyd.
There is a strong message of change from the heart of Buffalo's east side community. “All of us need to take a knee — I think and let the young generation know we stand behind them for the appropriate cause,” remarked Stephens.
The Buffalo Peacemakers returned to Bailey Avenue at the same location where violence erupted Monday night. Three police officers were struck by an SUV. A state trooper remains hospitalized at ECMC.
Stephens says if the community wants to stop police brutality and racial injustice everyone needs to show unity.
“But I know that the leaders and the heads of this particular community need to take a knee — get to the table. Young generation got to know you go to the table — it’s all about making alliances,” said Stephens.
Buffalo Mayor Brown stopped by the Bailey Avenue neighborhood Tuesday.
“Mayor is it time for you and police officers and the police commissioner to actually come out and take a knee?” Buckley asked. “Well, I’m out in the community all the time . One of the things that I’ve asked people to understand is — as a black man in America — even as mayor of the city of Buffalo — I experience discrimination everyday. People don't see that, people don't understand that,” responded Mayor Brown.
The mayor says all black people experience discrimination, but “everyone” must fight it no matter their race.
“We’re the balance. We’re on both sides,” stated Murray Holman, executive director, Stop the Violence Coalition.
Holman says the group has been working to end police brutality and racism. meeting once a month with the Buffalo police commissioner.
“Whether it be a bad cop, whether it be just general information, but we've been having those meetings with him — most cities don't have community organizers meeting with the commissioners of police,” explained Holman.
Both Holman and Stephens say they must get the youth to the table to be part of discussions about change, but warn younger generations to avoid acts of violence.
“They don’t need to destroy their own neighborhoods to get attention,” Holman noted. ”We’ve got a new generation of officers coming in. We have a new generation of children coming — just come to the table.”
The Buffalo Peacemaker said there are two things community members can do to open dialogue.
“One, obey the law, if you want it fix, come to the table with something to offer not the disturbance,” Stephens said. “Come to the table with your cause and I guarantee you — if they mayor don’t listen to you, I will.”