Instead of placing his hand on his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance before a council meeting Tuesday, Councilman Ulysees O. Wingo Sr. raised his fist in the air. Wingo had protested police brutality in this manner before, but this time, about 50 clergyman joined him.
The clergyman attended the meeting to support Wingo’s protest. Franchelle C. Hart, executive director of the civic organization Open Buffalo, told Buffalo News that the supporters were proud of the councilman. She said Buffalo is facing many of the same racial issues as other cities across the country.
“Not just with issues of law enforcement, but access to jobs, workforce development – you name it,” she told the outlet.
Despite the support, Wingo, who first protested in late September, told Buffalo News that he doesn’t plan on raising his fist at the next meeting. He said that his protest prompted a necessary conversation, but now it’s time to move forward by joining conversations about race in their city and empowering black citizens to use their political power.
Since Colin Kaepernick began his silent protest of the national anthem in August, athletes, celebrities, politicians, students and beyond have showed their support (and disdain) for his message. Still, at least 23 black people have been killed by police since then, according to The Guardian.
During the meeting, Wingo read seven of the names of black people killed by cops across the country in September. He reminded the attendees that while none of those killings occurred in Buffalo, their city is still plagued with high poverty rates and de facto segregation.
The councilman also read a letter that he wrote to call on white America to become allies.
“We need our white friends and neighbors to listen to our stories and make a concerted effort toward acknowledging our pain,” he wrote. “We need you to work toward dismantling a system that was built on the backs of our ancestors, and never meant to benefit us.”