Activists march against police brutality: ‘This is a movement, not a moment’

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Supporters of Black Lives Matter marched June 28 in downtown Manchester against police brutality. Photo/Winter Trabex

MANCHESTER, NH – On Sunday afternoon, while clouds gathered overhead threatening rain, people gathered in Veteran’s Park for a march against police brutality. As is the case with many public events, the peaceful march was juxtaposed with a very visible presence of police officers who were on stand-by as the group moved through the downtown.

While police officers in Manchester have not been known to brutalize and murder suspects, neither have they been known for their transparency. The “Laurie List,”  a list of all police officers in New Hampshire who have been investigated for misconduct – including several from Manchester Police Department – was ruled last year a matter of public record. Despite this, it still has not been disclosed in full to the public.

Governor Sununu has recently come out in support of the list being made public, provided the officers involved received due process. He has also created an accountability commission to study the relationship between officers and the communities they serve, which included Ronelle Tshiela, an organizer for Black Lives Matter.

During the event Black activists went before the crowd with a strong message: Systemic racism among police officers must end. There was no sense New Hampshire was exempt to what had become an urgent national problem.

Black activists spoke of how prison in America never really ended; instead, prisons became slave labor camps with black people disproportionately incarcerated all across America. Having been victims of racism themselves, black activists in attendance had no reason to believe things in New Hampshire were any different than anywhere else.

Masked supporter holds a sign during Sunday rally in downtown Manchester. Photo/Winter Trabex

Latoya Fletcher, the organizer of the event, said that while she has not experienced police brutality personally, she has been a victim of racism repeatedly.

“Do I want the Black community to feel safe? I do,” Fletcher said. “Do I feel like they’re in a state of emergency? I do. And when you look at the facts, you look at the numbers, you look at the statistics, you can see that we are literally being murdered and nobody cares. For all the black names that are making headlines, what about all the millions of black names that didn’t?”

Once the marching began, chants of “no justice, no peace / no racist police,” and “what do we want / justice! / if we don’t get it? / shut it down!” rang throughout Elm Street. The owner of Baked, a cafe on Elm Street, banged on a pot to show his support as the crowd passed. Others raised their fists in the air or honked their horns repeatedly.

Supporters of Black Lives Matter marched through downtown Manchester Sunday calling for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. Photo/Winter Trabex

The crowd’s shouts and chants were loud enough to drown out all other conversation. People carried signs with phrases like “Black Lives Matter,” and “Make Racism Uncomfortable Again.”

After circling around Elm Street, the march headed back toward Veteran’s Park where members of Manchester’s homeless population watched on with seeming indifference. Shortly after the event ended, rain began to fall.

“This is a movement, not a moment,” Fletcher said.

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Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester.