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Black Lives Matter backers, cops work together at rallies

Willie Jenkins, in red, marches with others in

Willie Jenkins, in red, marches with others in a Black Lives Matter demonstration in East Hampton, Sunday, July 17, 2016. Credit: Marisol Diaz

More than 100 people marched Sunday in East Hampton Village and Bridgehampton in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as the local NAACP president called for increased cooperation between protesters and police.

Organizers Donna Stovall and Vanessa Vascez-Corleone, 28, both of Riverhead, said they wanted to keep the movement alive after last Sunday’s march in that town to protest police killings of black men, including shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota.

“We’ll go wherever people are asking us to come out,” said Stovall, 50.

About 40 demonstrators of varying ethnicities and ages gathered on Newtown Lane before marching down Main Street and held aloft signs reading “Black lives matter” and “silence = complicity.”

Willie Jenkins, 33, of Bridgehampton, shouted call-and-response chants to those gathered behind police barricades.

Before the protest, Stovall met with East Hampton Village Police Department Chief Jerry Larsen.

“There’s been total cooperation,” said Larsen, who helped organizers file a permit and joined demonstrators in their march down Main Street. “This should be the way it works,” he said. “Total respect for each other.”

Larsen stood with demonstrators while three members of the East Hampton Village Police Department monitored from nearby Herrick Park. Police closed off the right lane on Newtown Lane and Main Street for the march, and officers on foot and in squad cars guided the marchers en route to Village Hall.

East Long Island NAACP President Lucius Ware stressed that cooperation between demonstrators and local police departments is “so critical and so meaningful” to augmenting the message that both black and “blue” lives matter. “I’m looking forward to seeing it continue,” he said.

As marchers moved from Newtown to Main, music therapist Michael Guglielmo, 60, of East Hampton, provided what he called a “universal rhythm” on a drum. The beat, called a clave, is common to all cultures, he said.

Despite the show of unity Sunday, some people stopped, stared and hurled insults at demonstrators. Others snapped pictures, recorded videos and clapped to Guglielmo’s beat

“With all these people getting shot, and no gun control?” said onlooker Freda Mindlin, who splits her time between East Hampton and New York City. “There should be many more people. . . . I think it’s wonderful what they’re doing.”

Arjun Achuthan, 48, a teacher from East Hampton, attended the demonstration because “people are hurting.”

“It’s a serious situation,” he said. “I’m just trying to think, if I were African-American, it would be very dangerous.”

Later in the day, demonstrators gathered at Unitarian Universalist Congregation Church of the South Fork in Bridgehampton for a march down Bridgehampton Sag Harbor Highway and a vigil.

The group of about 80 included marchers from the East Hampton Village demonstration. Margaret Pulkingham, 62, of Sag Harbor, helped organize the march with the help of the Southampton Town Police Department, which provided security during the protest.

“We think it’s critical that justice be served and silence be broken,” she said.

Outside Hamptons Library, demonstrators chanted “hands up, don’t shoot.” At a vigil in front of the library, local poets recited their works and demonstrators read from a list of victims of recent police shootings.

“Our world is full of violence,” the Rev. Kimberly Quinn Johnson, the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork in Bridgehampton, told the crowd. “For many of us, that violence, fear and concern is not new.”

“All lives will matter when people are held accountable.”


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