With days of preparation, more than 11,000 descended upon Downtown Troy Sunday afternoon in one of the largest regional demonstrations in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.
Chanting “no justice, no peace” and “hands up, don’t shoot” – evoking previous incidents involving African Americans and police officers, protesters started their rally at Riverfront Park before heading to Troy Police headquarters on Sixth Avenue.
The demonstration comes just over a week later from a similar sized protest in Albany and exactly a week after demonstrations in Schenectady. The Albany protest was marred by a group of rioters later that Saturday evening that led to physical and property damage in Albany’s South End and Downtown neighborhoods. The South End violence led to the arrest of a Delmar man throwing a brick at an Albany police vehicle.
From the organizers, Justice for Dahmeek, as posted on Facebook:
This is intended to be a peaceful protest. We acknowledge that the words peaceful and nonviolent are often used to divide and villainize passionate Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The violence we condemn is the violence that comes from the top, in our country, our state, and our city: the violence of police and vigilante murder and brutality against our communities, the violence of official doublespeak and cover-up, the violence of an economy where the rich loot millions from the poor every day, the violence of endless wars to bring this same white supremacist system, by force, to the rest of the world. The violence of inaction and silence.
We don’t want to hear from these purveyors of violence that our youth are violent; we don’t want to hear from the looters of billions that our people are looters. We don’t want to hear from those who silence the screams of “we can’t breathe” that we are making too much commotion. If you had listened to these voices a year ago, ten years ago, a hundred years ago, we wouldn’t be here today. We support the righteous rage of our communities.
The rally was also co-hosted by the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region, Citizen Action of New York, Ayo Project Rising, and ALL OF US.
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden issued the following statement in the early evening:
“We appreciate the cooperation from rally organizers, participants, and public safety personnel for ensuring a safe, peaceful rally. Today’s event was an opportunity for the public to make their voices heard and advocate for positive, lasting change in our community. There is still much work ahead to address systemic racism & discrimination, and we are committed to meaningful dialogue and action.
“Additionally, I applaud the rapid response of Troy police and our law enforcement partners to an incident involving several suspicious individuals carrying handguns. These individuals have been detained and are being questioned by Troy police. Thank you to Chief Owens, our police officers, and assisting agencies in response to this incident, and their professionalism demonstrated throughout Sunday’s rally.”
Rensselaer County Steve McLaughlin issued the following statement on Monday:
Sunday, June 7 saw one of the biggest rallies in Rensselaer County history in the City of Troy. There were an estimated 11,000 marchers at the Troy Rally for Black Lives. What is equally historic to the size of the gathering is that the event was conducted peacefully and without lasting damage to the city or surrounding communities.
Rensselaer County has a proud tradition of protest and energetic expression of viewpoints and ideas. That tradition was recognized on Sunday, and many came to Troy and Rensselaer County to be heard on that day.
Thank you to the Troy Police Department for an outstanding job in managing the rally and accommodating so many people from the county and the region. The TPD displayed great professionalism and foresight in handling this large event, and ensuring the event went peacefully. We collectively owe the Troy Police Department thanks for a wise and effective response.
Thanks also to the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office, Rensselaer County Bureau of Public Safety, Rensselaer County Highway Department, New York State Police, State Department of Environmental Conservative officers, various federal agencies and members of neighboring police agencies and departments for responding on Sunday. Their service and assistance to the residents of this county will not be forgotten.
We also thank organizers of the protest for working to ensure a peaceful and organized expression of viewpoints. Organizers helped ensure the safety of those attending the rally, and their work was an important component of the day’s successful conclusion. Their work helped ensure that ideas and goals were not eclipsed by unfortunate occurrences and helped ensure a continued dialogue on issues of vital interest.
During these difficult days, it was encouraging on Sunday to see a day that highlighted community instead of conflict. Rensselaer County is appreciative of those efforts.