“Bring your hearts, bring your minds, bring your voices, bring your signs, bring your friends and bring your masks. Those were the opening calls to action from WNY Liberation Collective and WNY Peace Center who organized the Friday August 28 protest march called “The Hertel Hurdle” to simultaneously stand in solidarity with last Friday’s Washington D.C. march demanding racial equality and criminal justice reform.
On that day, tens of thousands gathered from across the country at the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital on the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The march, organized by the Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network, was called the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington, and featured speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial followed by a march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
-Take Back Your Voice-
The Buffalo protesters assembled peacefully at Main and Hertel where they marched down to Buffalo Police Precinct D – District continuing to raise awareness and make demands for social justice while encouraging protestors to “Take Back Your Voice, Take Back Your City.”
Protesters were met with wide-spread support by the surrounding community and spoke on unity amongst all people under the common goal of collective liberation. However upon their return to the Hertel area they were disrupted by two angry male counter protestors identified as Joseph Noughton and Michael Cremen yelling multiple racial slurs, including the N word. One of the men, Michael Cremen, was wielding a knife.
Photographer Cams Banks who captured images and lives in the area said she’s not surprised by what happened, stating, “as protestors, I think it’s a risk that we take, you never know who is going to show their true colors when real problems arise.”
The Liberation Collective reported in a Face Book post that the protesters remained calm and blocked the hateful counter protesters attempts to gain access to the larger crowd and that the Buffalo police, who were present, chose to guard the man yelling the racial slurs. (The video went viral on social media that shows the incident).
On Monday afternoon, police released an update, saying 47-year-old Cremen (who had the knife) of Franklinville, had been taken into custody and charged with harassment, criminal possession of a weapon, and menacing. The menacing was charged as a hate crime based on the use of racial slurs by Cremen. A police report was filed and an investigation began on Friday.
Mayor Byron Brown addressed the incident on his Sunday morning radio show saying the event did not have a permit, but that there were no injuries and no damage to property and that the police department is interviewing the complaint. You can find WNY Liberation Collective and WNY Peace Center on Face Book and Instagram and their respective websites.
A “Don’t Be Silent, North Buffalo” event was schedued for this past Tuesday at the North Park Community School 50 to respond to last Friday’ s incident.