"Can I Live?" Youth Rally Outside City Hall
Rochester, NY: Dozens gathered on the steps of City Hall today for a children's rally in the wake of seventy four arrests during a Black Lives Matter peaceful assembly Friday night. The rally titled, "Can I Live?" was inspired by a twelve year old boy named Zaire who reached out to Councilman Adam McFadden who secured the permit and set up security details.
"I think [Zaire] was concerned about some of the things that have been going on and kids really hadn’t had a say," Councilman McFadden says. "I’m happy about the turnout because it was more kids than adults, which I was hoping would be the case because, you know, when people see adults marching they think negative things. When you see kids marching there are no negative thoughts to that."
One of the children present was eleven year old Ramon, who says he watches the news with his parents everyday, "It affects me because not only are there people like me, they’re actually part of my community so it’s like, you’re just taking people’s family members day after day."
As for being part of the rally, Ramon expressed hope, "I actually feel a little better… like we’re going to change – things are going to change between everybody," he says, "I feel a little more connected to everybody knowing that everybody is supporting each other around the community, so it makes everybody feel like they have a shoulder to lean on."
Another child who partook in the peaceful assembly on the steps of City Hall was Laila, who is eleven years old. "There have been a lot of killings day after day after day and it’s not good that people are doing this and kids should have a say in this," she says. Like Ramon, she and her family stay up-to-date with current events. Her father did expressed that he doesn't share news of violent crime or homicides; however, "some things you can't shield them from, so she's aware of the police shooting [in Dallas] but not of the two people because of the amount of attention it got. So, we had a little conversation about that."
Protests around the country have been taking place in the aftermath of the national coverage of the shooting of Alton Sterling in Baton Rogue, Louisiana, and of Philando Castile in St. Paul Minnesota, whose last moments were live streamed on Facebook by his partner, Lavish Reynolds. Their deaths are part of a pattern of unjustified killings of black men and women in the United States, and a pattern of acquittals of those committing the homicides. On Thursday, during a peaceful protest in Dallas a sniper shot ten police officers, killing five. Later police, in an hours-long stand off with the suspect, used a robot bomb to kill him.
Standing next to a pillar of the City Hall building, Laila shared her concern, "It effects me that one day it’s going to happen to me and I don’t want that to happen because I’m so young, and I shouldn’t be scared to play outside."