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Tupper Lake BLM protest attracts honks and hecklers

Organizers say there’s still a lot of ‘ignorance’ they’re trying to fix

Around 60 protesters lined the Tupper Lake Municipal Park Monday for a Black Lives Matter protest. For two hours they garnered honks of support from passing cars, talked about how to deal with racism in the Adirondacks and were met with some hecklers. (Enterprise photo — Aaron Cerbone)

TUPPER LAKE — Around 60 people came out to a Black Lives Matter protest Monday to protest the police killing of George Floyd, talk about racism and ask for more acceptance in the Adirondacks.

This protest was organized by Tupper Lakers Elizabeth Boylan, Kelsey Amell, Ashley Lynz and Lexi Mills Hodgson, who said they hope to bring enlightenment to a town they say has not made a lot of progress in terms of racism and inclusivity.

The group stood on the side of Demars Boulevard holding signs saying “Black Lives Matter,” bearing the names of black people killed by police, or calling for peace and unity.

Drivers going past honked, clapped and shouted approval. Some stuck their fists in the air, a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

These protesters also faced a fair amount of harassment and counter-protesting. Some drivers revved their truck engines loudly as they passed. A few men hung out the windows while driving to holler inaccurate statistics about police killings, and others flashed unkind hand gestures.

One man drove up and pulled off the side of the road, laying on his horn. The protestors were a little worried. He started talking, but no one could hear him, so he pulled away, laying on his horn again.

At one point a boy with a “Trump 2020” flag ran through the Dollar Tree parking lot across the street.

For the most part, though, they received a lot of support.

Protests have sprung up all over the country, and worldwide, after Floyd, an unarmed black man, died when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Amell said that while small towns such as Tupper Lake are not where you would expect to see this type of protest, it is needed here just as much. She said the whole country needs to have conversations about racism and police brutality.

“Those of you who disagree with the protest my friends and I are organizing, please just go about your day,” Amell wrote on Facebook. “Those of you who disagree are EXACTLY why we felt the need to do so. … We felt a widely racist town was the perfect stage for a #BLACKLIVESMATTER protest. … But what does happen here is discrimination against someone I consider a friend. What has happened here is an entire family of black people being treated like outcasts.”

This protest, like many others, has received threats of violence from people who believe such events may turn violent or destructive. The organizers said these threats were reported to the police and that they were not concerned about them. They said they did not have an anti-police message.

“There are police officers who have my full respect, and there are police officers who deserve none of it,” Hodgson wrote on Facebook. “That doesn’t mean the system is working. It’s not. It needs reform and this movement will force that and has already in many areas.

“Black lives matter. Reform the criminal justice system. Stop killing black people. That is all.”

They said they have talked with village officials and the police department and have their “full support.”

“That alone, to me, is a success,” Hodgson said.

“It’s crazy, how just 20 minutes away in Saranac Lake, they’re so much more progressive than this town will ever be, and it’s a shame that Tupper Lake will never reach that point due to the overflow of hate and ignorance,” Amell wrote on Facebook. “The way people are reacting to the proposition of a peaceful protest in Tupper Lake is exactly why there needs to be a protest in Tupper Lake.”

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