300-plus march in Lake Placid against racism
LAKE PLACID — More than 300 people turned out for a Lake Placid rally against racial injustice on Thursday.
They shut down half of Main Street as they walked in the road with a line of traffic trailing behind them. They chanted, “No justice, no peace; no racist police.”
As protesters walked and chanted, they carried signs that said things like “Black Lives Matter,” “End White Silence” and “Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It’s not pie.” They held the signs high, carrying their message past multiple restaurants with visitors dining on Main Street and past pedestrians strolling through the bustling business district. Some drivers honked their car horns as they passed.
Some visitors clapped for the protesters as they meandered down Main Street. Some joined in, accepting signs from protesters.
The event, organized by a group of Lake Placid residents, was the latest in a series of similar protests around the world following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died as a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes.
Protests against police brutality and in support of the Black Lives Matter movement were also held within the last month in Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and twice in Keene Valley.
The Lake Placid event included a peaceful march along Main Street from the Olympic Speedskating Oval to Saranac Avenue.
Alex Medina led the march with a megaphone. The 30-year-old New York City native, who has lived here since 2011, said the point of the rally is “a simple message of positive energy.”
“For a small town like this to come together and show some support for something that the whole world understands — which is basically right and wrong — means a lot to me,” he said.
He said he was in New York City attending Black Lives Matter protests when he saw pictures of crowds in Saranac Lake, where about 500 people rallied against racism and police brutality on June 2. He was surprised.
“It really opened my eyes to the area,” he said.
He said vacationers watching the Lake Placid march should know that “they can’t come here and escape reality.”
He described Floyd’s death was “the tipping point for the black community.” He doesn’t want to abolish police — “My father was a cop, NYPD for 22 years” — but he thinks cops “get off easy in a lot of things.”
“There’s definitely a lot more good than bad out there, but at the end of the day, personally, I think they just have a little bit too much power.”
Keela Grimmette, 35, of Lake Placid, said she is passionate about fighting injustice and wants to be part of the anti-racism process.
“I think we white people have a lot of work to do,” she said. “I think we need to learn as much as we can that was not in our history books. We need to learn a lot of history and do a lot of unlearning. I think we need to listen a lot more. I think we need to recognize that we have been based in white supremacy since the first day we were born, and we don’t even recognize what the impact of our actions are on a daily basis.”