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Sep. 21, 2020 | Monday
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NOTL group to host 'peaceful anti-racism rally'
An anti-racism rally will be held Friday at noon, starting at Voices of Freedom Park. (Richard Harley)

A group of Niagara-on-the-Lake friends are organizing a peaceful anti-racism rally to stand in solidarity with black members of the community, both locally and across the globe.

The rally, set to take place Friday at noon, follows anti-racism protests happening across the United States, Canada and elsewhere, largely sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

One of the rally organizers said the catalyst for doing something in NOTL was the ongoing protests across North America and an opinion piece by Queenston resident Yvonne Bredow published in The Lake Report in April, which detailed some of her own experiences with racist attitudes.

“There was an article that you guys shared a while back. Yvonne (Bredow) wrote it, and the op-ed, and just talking about racism in Niagara-on-the-Lake. So we know it's here. It's not a very diverse community, really. So, you know, there's been a lot of comments about migrant workers as well,” she said.

“We just thought in this kind of really challenging and difficult, tragic time in the world where a lot of people of colour are feeling discriminated against, we wanted to stand in solidarity with our immediate neighbours first, and also with everyone who is protesting worldwide.”

She asked to not be named in the story, but to instead direct people to the Facebook event which she is the host of.

“We're really being conscious of not being performative and doing this for any kind of recognition,” she said, noting the protest is a group effort.

“There's probably like three or four of us that kind of talked about it. I said that I would be the one dealing with all the people on Facebook,” she said.

“I just really want to be conscious. One thing I've been reading a lot about in my research here about racial injustice and wage policy is really taking ourselves out of the equation being there and supporting, but really letting it be the voices of the people who need to have their voices heard.”

She said people have been messaging with concerns about public safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, wondering if social distancing is possible.

“But peaceful protest is still 100 per cent legal right now. So, I think there's a lot of concern about social distancing in NOTL, but there's another whole virus that is racism that we need to call attention to, as well. So we think it's important.”

She said she will be asking people to wear masks and stay two metres apart, noting that there was a protest in Toronto Saturday and there will be one in Niagara Falls this weekend.

The NOTL protest will start at Voices of Freedom Park on Regent Street and include a march “down to Queen Street back up Mississagua and back around on Johnson to the park,” she said.

“We'll probably have a moment of silence for everyone who's lost their lives due to racial injustice and police brutality. And then we're going to walk together.”

She said she is trying to arrange some speakers from the Niagara Anti-Racism Association, and “any other black members of our community who want to have their voice heard.”

Anyone who wants to share a story can message the Facebook event.

WHAT: Anti-racism rally
WHERE: Voices of Freedom Park, 244 Regent St., NOTL
WHEN: Friday, June 5 at noon

 

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