Black Lives Matter: Williamstown reacts

Friday June 5 saw an estimated 600 peaceful but vocal protesters gather to demonstrate against racial violence in Field Park in Williamstown.

In our report below, we quote extensively from Jessica Dils, one of the founding organizers of Greylock Together, a local group which fosters progressive values. Jessica is the daughter of John Storey ’65 whom we thank for providing us with Jessica’s summary. John also alerted us to the write up in the Williams Record, drafted by Williams sophomore Kevin Yang, Executive Editor, who returned to Williamstown expressly to cover this event. We refer to his article below. In addition, we thank Tammy Daniels, editor of iBerkshires.com, for permission to quote and reproduce images originally published here.

Here’s Jessica’s full report.

“We’ve had large, vocal, visible protests in every town/city—with 600 last weekend in Williamstown and 1400 in Gt Barrington (as examples). We’ve had 400+ orders for #BlackLivesMatters signs this week locally in order to show visible support and solidarity of our black and brown neighbors. There is a wonderful local movement around education, outreach, activism—led by those who have been fighting to resist the atrocities of the current administration and in support of all marginalized neighbors since 2016, but now amplified and growing in number exponentially fueled by the outrage and grief around police brutality. Citizens are coming together in community conversations about the role of police in their own localities, local and state officials and legislators are listening and responding, institutions are examining their part as allies in the work that lies ahead. In short, there is a seismic turn toward justice and antiracist work that is felt by so many involved in this collective fight, both longtime activists and new voices.”

John adds more Jess has also been a consultant to Williams Center for Learning in Action, working with Williams students who are considering teaching, so she’s a busy woman.

Kevin Yang, Williams sophomore and Executive Editor of the Williams Record expressly returned to Williamstown to cover the event, “which featured dozens of protesters participated in a die-in, lying down on the roundabout for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time that Chauvin pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck, killing him by asphyxiation”. Read Kevin’s full report here:

Stephen Davis, staff reporter for North Adams-based iBerkshires.com, talks about the protesters:

“The protesters ranged in age from preschool-aged children through residents who may well have been their great-grandparents. Though the Williams College student population has been gone since mid-March, the crowd showed a healthy representation of high school and college-aged youth, many home prematurely from their respective colleges and universities.

Many held the familiar printed black and gold “Black Lives Matter” signs, but most of the signs were homemade, with slogans ranging from “Defund the Police” to “White Silence Equals White Consent.” More than a few listed the names of other black victims of racial violence, including Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbrey.”

Aftermath:
It perhaps comes as no surprise to see so many white faces in the photos above. Williamstown is, and remains, a predominantly white community. That its citizens can rally with energy and dedication to defend the rights of their fellow citizens, and do so without violence, speaks well for the community we grew to know and love during our time at Williams.

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