ITHACA, N.Y. –– The weekly racial justice rally in downtown Ithaca once again went off without a hitch Sunday as the protests targeting law enforcement and inequity in the community kicked off by the police killing of George Floyd back in May, head into their seventh straight month.
Beginning on the Commons per usual, protesters addressed the crowd, once again laying out their intentions for that day’s event and reiterating their reasons for continuing the gatherings each week, even as the weather turns colder and less accommodating.
“Every Black person matters,” Meek, a regular at the protests said, emphasizing that incidents of racism at Cornell University should be a focus of the protests as well—specifically referring to tension seen recently among Student Assembly members. “What I’m saying is there’s an increase in hate crimes against BIPOC happening around Ithaca (…) We’ve all seen the Celtic crosses, we’ve all seen the anti-Semitic shit (…) When we say ‘Black lives matter,’ those are the people we are protecting, because they are the ones who get targeted when they speak out.”
Also during the Sunday gathering, one woman read an impassioned version of the story of Chanel Hines, a Black, transgender woman who was recently shot by police in Canandaigua. Hines is currently in stable condition.
Subsequently, the group commenced its weekly march to the Ithaca Police Department, stopping along the way to occupy the intersections of State and Cayuga Streets and Cayuga and Seneca Streets. There was only one confrontation with a driver this week.
The event then pivoted to mostly chants and a skateboarding session, as several of the protesters practiced tricks outside of the IPD building, while intermittently leading chants and speeches. Deputy Chief Vincent Monticello, who has become the most popular and specific target of the protesters, once again absorbed most of the verbal blows as they accused him of racism, transphobia and brutality for his conduct towards protesters over the last several weeks.
The most contentious part of the protest actually came from above –– while outside of IPD headquarters, several protesters took notice of someone filming the gathering from the Cayuga Street Parking Garage. After some investigation, in the form of one protester climbing the stairs to confront the person, it was determined the filmer was a man identified as Zachary Winn.
Winn has a well-documented history of opposition to the weekly racial justice protests, as he was involved in a physical altercation at one of the events in August, and has threatened to deface a Black Lives Matter mural on Plain Street if not removed by the city. Coincidentally, weeks after he made that threat during a Common Council meeting, the mural was indeed defaced, captured by surveillance footage.
Protesters greeted Winn with taunts that nobody had come to local right-wing events he had tried to organize and generally jeered him to leave the area. Winn traded insults with protester Josh Dolan, who began filming him and streaming it to Facebook Live, before eventually Winn and a colleague left.
The crowd eventually dispersed peacefully.
The weekly rallies are set to continue indefinitely, every Sunday at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons at 2 p.m.