Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., have sparked a conversation about police violence among black residents of Buffalo.
The fatal shooting in Ferguson of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, by a white police officer, was the focus of a forum hosted Saturday by the Malcolm X/Marcus Garvey Day Organizing Committee in the Frank E. Merriweather Library on Jefferson Avenue.
The consensus: Solutions are complex but talking about the issue is essential.
“I’m not surprised. I’m not shocked by Ferguson. I’ve seen it all my life,” said Belinda Moses, who said she has taught her 15-year-old daughter that police officers are not necessarily her friends.
“Our government is ready to come down on us – all colors. … I’ve watched the police beat people, and take people to jail and falsely arrest them.”
Shenita Ann McLean, 25, a committee member and doctoral student at the University at Buffalo, said the black community needs to organize better to fight injustice.
“Black people are not considered people,” she said. “The United States has always prized possession and property over black people. To have to continue to look over your shoulder makes for a poor quality of life.”
McLean said she has been stopped by Amherst police while driving to classes at UB – “just because they can.”
“It doesn’t matter what color the police department officers are. We’re not talking about an individual, but a system that has patterns of behaviors. We see it happening in the Buffalo community all the time.”
Rebeckah Williams agreed.
“Police brutality does go beyond a race thing,” said Williams, adding that she recently addressed the issue in general with a black Buffalo police officer who responded, “I’m tired of appeasing black people.”