Penn Yan: Black Lives Matter demonstration planned June 20

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

Yates County citizens have organized an ongoing series of peaceful demonstrations to decry our nation’s history of racial injustice and violence against unarmed Black men, women and children. 

Now, local organizers and a number of justice-oriented groups invite supporters of progress and equity to come together at Indian Pines Park in Penn Yan on Saturday, June 20 at 5 pm for a rally featuring speakers, music, and reflection. An optional silent car procession will precede the event at 4:30, beginning at Lake Street Plaza and ending at the park, during which participants are invited to display messages on their vehicles.

Plans for this grassroots and responsive event are still evolving, but organizers will welcome several speakers centering the experiences of Black Americans.

Black Lives Matter-themed artwork by a local artist will be available for sale, with proceeds going to the Geneva chapter of the NAACP, organizers said. Additional donations to the NAACP can be made on site, or directly to NAACP Geneva Branch #2158, P.O. Box 222, Geneva, NY, 14456.

Organizers said that they have been working to get buy-in from area progressive and activist groups.

“We are proud to count among our supporters the Penn Yan Action Coalition, whose focus on immigrants’ rights prompted last year’s Lights for Liberty vigil as well as a successful community reading series earlier this year, and Keuka Compass, a local advocacy group centered on LGBTQ+ people’s rights and stories,” said co-organizer Mildred Philips-España. “We are also backed by the Yates County chapter of the Young Democrats and the Yates County Democratic Committee, who have been the standard-bearers of a more just society in our community for years.”

She added, “We request that participants observe social distancing and wear masks. Participants may choose to remain in their vehicles, and a microphone will be used for the convenience of listeners.”

Organizers indicated that they want to help keep progress toward a more equitable future going for as long as it takes to see progress.

In a joint statement, the organizers said, “To those who ask why we are continuing to pursue these protests, weeks after the murder of George Floyd, we respond that this is not the work of a day, a month, or a year. It’s the work of lifetimes. Our voices are raised for George, Breonna, Ahmaud, and all the victims of senseless, racist violence, who are tragically too numerous to list here. Our voices are raised in the hope of a better day coming. We don’t know what will be happening across the country in another month, year, or decade, but we know one fact for certain: our work is not done.”