BATAVIA — The peaceful protest set for June 7 is taking a new approach and a new location.
Organizers met with city officials on Monday, said Chelsea Bianchi of the Community Against Social Injustice group. She said they have the city’s backing and will instead conduct a rally at Williams Park.
The exact details are still being determined, and the organizers and city will meet again on Wednesday. But the point remains the same: essentially a show of the community’s decency following the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia.
They’re reaching out to area officials, pastors and other people to participate.
“Everything is not completely set in stone on who is speaking, but I know for a fact (Chief Shawn Heubusch of the City Police) will be speaking,” Bianchi said.
The decision to switch to a rally came in the aftermath of Saturday night’s riots in Rochester and Buffalo.
As before, the organizers are planning a peaceful event. They have advised strongly from the beginning that anybody trying to incite or attempting violence or destruction will be removed — behavior which absolutely won’t be tolerated. That remains the same, Bianchi said, and a significant police presence will also be there.
“Everybody is completely on board with what we are doing,” Bianchi said. “We’’e being backed by the city. We
are going to have the City Church. They’re going to be hopefully providing food. There’s going to be a very heavy police presence, so if things go less we are still able to intervene.”
The rally is designed to be family-friendly, she said. People of all ethnicities are invited and children will be allowed.
The organizers are developing a way to maintain social distancing, Bianchi said. They may get some electrical service for a pavilion to allow a microphone and speakers, but the park’s restrooms will be closed due to ongoing COVID-19 safety and sanitation concerns.
As from the beginning, the emphasis is on peace and coming together as one for the greater community. It’s currently envisioned the event will last a few hours.
“We’re against (violence) still,” Bianchi said. “We do not condone violence or destruction of any sort. Be together as one, united as one, come together and have it be a very good event — positive, positive, positive outcome.”