Oneonta displays living memorial to Black lives

#SayTheirNamesMemorial recognizes Black lives taken by police brutality, racism, transphobia and other injustices.

Posted: Jul 31, 2020 6:11 PM

Oneonta, NY - On the fence overlooking the Westcott parking lot in downtown Oneonta, about 200 portraits of men, women and children whose lives have been wrongfully taken by racism, injustices and police brutality. The "Say their Names" memorial honors them.

From 14-year old Emmitt Till who was lynched in 1955 after being accused of whistling at a white woman to Breonna Taylor, a 26 year old EMT and George Floyd, a 46 year-old man who were both killed this year by police officers and civil-rights era icons in between.

On July 21 this memorial was unanimously approved by the Oneonta Common Council.

But the unanimously approved installation did come with some opposition.

As reported by the Oneonta Daily Star, in a letter to Mayor Herzig Oneonta Police Chief Douglas Brenner states:

"Any display that could have ramifications that are potentially divisive to the City of Oneonta, its residents and its businesses, is not an image that should be promoted,"

This was addressed in the council meeting.

“It's really important for us to make it clear that this display is not anti-police, it's anti-police brutality and I think that's something that everyone can get behind,” said Kaytee Lipari Shue, member of the Common Council.

Community members walked by to honor the victims of not just police brutality but racism, transphobia and other injustices.

Greg, a NY native who chose not to give his last name, said, “(It’s) Very positive because it just expresses the fact that it's finally getting through to everybody it's not just Black people or native people or brown people in general. Everybody is beginning to feel the reality.”

“To acknowledge any hate crime any crime but certainly it's really scary when it's based on your gender, the color of your skin,” said Karen Oliver, resident of Oneonta.

Elizabeth Patterson who co-facilitated the memorial said, “I feel like this is really a special moment, this is a really special message and this is a really special community and there's a lot of people that need to see this.”

The display was put up on July 25 and will be up for 1 to 3 weeks.

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