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Scores of people rally on Stony Brook campus for racial justice

More than 150 people marched Nov. 12, 2016 in Suffolk County in support of racial justice, at times standing opposite a rally shouting oposing views. Credit: Ed Betz

The message that black lives matter is more urgent than ever after the election of Donald Trump as president, say organizers of a Saturday march in support of racial justice and solidarity.

More than 150 people showed up on the campus of Stony Brook University for the march and rally to demand the end of “systemic and institutionalized” racism and in support of the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Marcus Brown, a PhD student in philosophy at Stony Brook and a member of the Black Lives Matter campus chapter, said the movement’s mission remains as it was before Tuesday’s election: empower black people politically, socially and economically, and defend them against “state-sanctioned violence.”

“Nothing has changed,” Brown said. “Today is about reaffirming and defending the validity of black lives and showing solidarity with progressive forces in this country and combating the fascist tendencies the country is succumbing to.”

The march was organized by the Racial Concerns Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Stony Brook, Building Bridges in Brookhaven, Black Lives Matter Stony Brook University, and the North Country Peace Group, among others.

A racially and ethnically diverse group of supporters that included doctors, laborers, educators, students and children walked about a mile from the Stony Brook Long Island Rail Road stop along a heavily policed Route 25A to a grassy spot at the corner of Bennetts Road in Setauket. Supporters held signs, addressed the crowd, read poetry, beat drums and mingled.

“We need to speak up even more, and more and more people need to get involved in order to combat, at a minimum, the rhetoric of the president-elect,” said Mark Jackett of Building Bridges. “Fifty-something years after the civil rights act was passed, a lot of white people in particular, like to think racism doesn’t exist anymore, and it clearly does.”

Across the street about 20 people gathered in support of police, veterans and President-elect Trump.

Mary Calamia, of Holbrook, said she came to support friends.

“I also wanted to come to show the people across the street, we’re all one America,” she said. “This isn’t about black or white, rich or poor, left or right. We’re one America. We all want the same things: peace, prosperity, the ability to live our lives without intervention. We have to bridge these gaps and work together.”

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