BLM Protester: ”I am proud of Utica, I am very proud.” Says Cops Were Transparent
About 50 protesters were seen gathered at Oneida Square in Utica on Saturday afternoon preparing to march to the Utica Police Station. The group said it was marching in the wake of a recent incident involving a Utica Police Officer who kicked a handcuffed suspect in the head.
The suspect was black and the officer is now on suspension pending further action.
Utica resident Kimberly Jones was donning a 'Black Lives Matter' t-shirt and earings and told WIBX, ''It is about police brutality going on.''
However, Jones said while the UPD kicking incident prompted Saturday's protest, she said she was happy to see the way the Utica Police Department handled it.
''I am proud of Utica, I am very proud. They were very transparent, there was a meeting called very quickly and the community was alerted to what was going on. And in the background of that video, you can hear officers yelling 'No, no'. So there are officers that are out there who are willing to do the right thing. Is it just because of everything going on out there [referring to BLM protest around the country]? So what, let's take the good, and let's run with it.''
When asked about swirling rumors of planned riots in North Utica and New Hartford, Jones said she didn't know where those rumors had come from, and that she and others at Oneida Square weren't planning to destroy neighborhoods or businesses, only to march.
''There's no need to worry, we are adults. We've already had a peaceful protest in Utica, there were no incidents. We've had several Black Lives Matter rallies in Schuyler, in New Hartford, and in Utica. All the events we've had, it was always the other side trying to physically assault the Black Lives Matter crowd. You can see where the violence and hate is coming from. It's obviously not our side.''
Elizabeth Meeks who identified herself as a member of the Utica Abolitionists wouldn't speak specifically to how the march was organized, saying 'the community organized it.''
Meeks did say the group was planning to present city of Utica officials with a list of five demands, although it was unclear what the group was specifically requesting. Despite the positive comments from Jones mentioned earlier in the article, as the group marched toward the Utica Police Department they could be heard chanting: ''How do you spell racist? U-P-D.''
Meanwhile, amid rumored riots that would target white-owned businesses in retail locations like the New Hartford Shopping Center, several of those businesses chose to board up their windows on Friday in anticipation of destruction. The picture below was taken outside Duff Holmes' Mohawk Valley MMA location at the New Hartford Shopping Center.
Gentlemen's Corner Barber Shop, a usually very busy shop also located at the shopping center, was closed on Saturday with their windows boarded up.
As of 5:00 p.m. Saturday, WIBX was not aware of any protesters or damage to businesses at NHSC.