HONESDALE, PA — On Thursday, June 18, Honesdale residents held an anti-police brutality protest for the third week in a row, but this was the first to start outside of the vicinity of Honesdale …
HONESDALE, PA — On Thursday, June 18, Honesdale residents held an anti-police brutality protest for the third week in a row, but this was the first to start outside of the vicinity of Honesdale Central Park.
At around 4:30 p.m., a group of demonstrators congregated beneath the Fred R. Miller Pavilion on Main Street. Holding signs and chanting, “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” the group marched through the downtown area, eventually reaching the park. Once there, several people of color spoke, sharing personal experiences and telling the crowd what they could do to effect change. Michael Agunbiade encouraged creating dialogues with people who don’t share the same worldview.
“Generationally, when somebody has a certain way of viewing things that you may not agree with upfront, just understand where they’re coming from, because they’re not seeing the world how you see it... but you have the power to show them,” he said. He added that the best way to get through to somebody in a different world of reality is to invite them into your own.
“I guess what I’m really saying today is: Have an open mind and bring them here... They might feel uncomfortable, but that’s okay, because they’ll grow, and growth is what we all need.”
Next, Hanrii Padu—who spoke at the original June 4 rally—wished the crowd an early, happy Juneteenth, the June 19 holiday which celebrates the 1865 emancipation of enslaved people in the United States.
“Even though we were free, people were still looked at as different, people still hated us because of our skin,” he said. “What I don’t understand is why someone would hate people because of their differences... No one would want to live in a world where everyone’s the same.”
Padu also talked about experiencing racism when interacting with classmates at Sullivan West. He said that racial issues needed to become a regular part of schools’ curriculums.
“What teachers need to do is really teach their students about racism, about Black history, about all history... I want to make sure that this is still a movement and not a moment.”
Another speaker, David Jett, talked about #8cantwait—the slogan for eight police reforms that its proponents say would cut down on police brutality by 72 percent. The reforms include banning chokeholds, banning shooting at moving vehicles, requiring de-escalation before shooting and mandating that officers intervene when witnessing instances of excessive force, among other reforms. He also talked about the popular rallying cry, “defund the police.”
“Defunding the police does not mean getting rid of all police, it just means redistributing funds in the community so that they can be more helpful,” he said.
Savannah Drummond, founder of the NEPA group Creating Change FTP, also talked about current opportunities for tangible changes in the criminal justice system. She outlined three pieces of legislation: one bill for increased police transparency, one for more training and accountability and a third which would ban chokeholds within police departments.
“Right now what we really need is to be educated so that we know that we do have the power in a situation and we’re the ones who give them that power over us,” she said.
After hearing from longtime civil rights activist Beverly Sterner, who talked about the philosophy of nonviolence, the demonstrators once again lined the sidewalk near Church Street to wave their signs at the passing drivers.