On August 31, 2020, “All of Us” organized an event to call for an investigation into the death of Darryl Mount.
With the exception of one unpleasant incident, I came away impressed again about what a great city we live in.
My personal assessment of the crowd was that it was generally quite young and touchingly sincere in their desire to create a more just society. Following a series of speeches, the group moved along the sidewalks in an orderly procession along High Rock Avenue to Lake Avenue and then up to the steps of City Hall where they again gathered for more speeches.
From there they broke into two groups and formed two lines on either side of Broadway for seven minutes of silence. They then gathered again at Putnam Place Alley which was in the general area where Mount was injured. Following that they broke up and quietly dispersed.
As impressed as I was by the tone and manner of the demonstration, I was also impressed by the handling of the event by the city’s police. As far as I could tell there was only one uniformed police officer at High Rock Park. He was simply dressed in his regular uniform. I think it reflected the wisdom that a show of force was not only unnecessary but would potentially create tension. I spoke briefly to the officer who, while vigilant, appeared relaxed. The message this conveyed to me was that safety was again the primary concern of Chief Crooks.
I did observe one unfortunate incident at the original gathering in High Rock Park which was unrepresentative of the crowd. A person who runs a website called Fulton County News was videoing the event. He has been doing an excellent job covering other Black Lives Matter and Back the Blue events in the Capital District. I have relied heavily on his videos for my reports in the past.
The full video of most of the evening can be viewed on his website. At the top of this post is an excerpt documenting the incident (see above). The reporter was observing the events initially from across the street from High Rock Park. His commentary was actually quite positive as he seemed to share my positive assessment of the gathering. When he attempted to cross the street and enter the park he was confronted by a young white person who seemed to be acting as some kind of security. The young man was extremely hostile. He told the videographer/reporter in the crudest manner that he was not wanted and blocked his way.
The reporter withdrew. Someone pointed out to the reporter that the park is a public place. It was pointed out to the reporter that the police officer was just up the street and suggested he cross there. As the reporter approached the officer the same young man came over and attempted to block the reporter again and was gratuitously rude to the police officer. I was reminded that we were not in Kenosha by the way the policeman handled himself as the video shows. He refused to be baited by the young man and showed great composure and dignity.
In the meantime a young Black woman who was clearly also part of security intervened forcing the young white person to back off. I had chatted with her pleasantly earlier in the evening. Rather than looking for trouble she was clearly trying to make sure trouble didn’t happen.
There are always going to be belligerent types at these events but between the police officer and the young woman they made sure the event wasn’t marred.
We live in a wonderful city that both cares about social justice and about insuring the safety of the community during some challenging times.