UTICA, N.Y. --- Parts of our community were on edge on Saturday after false rumors of violent protests occurring in Utica and New Hartford were spread across social media. An ad was posted on Craiglist looking to hire people to protest at the New Harford Shopping Center.
The ad says they're from the Black lives matter Utica Chapter (There is no such thing), and says quote "We are looking for protesters in New Hartford New York. We want to protest white-owned businesses in the New Hartford shopping center, and drive them out. We will also demand once they are out, we will be able to get the locations rent-free to open our own business. We need a shopping center that is owned by blacks only."
This March for Justice rally comes after Utica Police Officer Matthew Felitto used unauthorized force while arresting Kerwin Taylor during a domestic incident on Spring Street Friday Dozens of protesters gathered in Oneida Square and then walked to UPD headquarters.
As police investigate who posted the ad, the protest that occurred in Utica was peaceful. A few dozen activists from different groups began chanting in Oneida Square. As cars drove by, activists chanted "Black Lives Matter" and waved flags and held signs.
One of the group's media contacts, Kimberly Jones spoke to NEWSCHannel2 and said the group she was with commends Utica Police for how they handled the situation.
"We do give credit to the Utica Police Department and the Mayor of Utica for acting on the situation. Right away the press release was done so they were very transparent with the community to let us know what went on so we do appreciate that," said Jones.
Jones said this rally is not about the incident that occurred last week, she said their group hopes to call on change in the community that will improve our city's neighborhoods.
"Their are just other things that we need to do as a community. We need to get together and see how we can possibly stop the violence on our streets. We need to get together in the community to see how we can stop black on black crime. We need to get together as a community and see how we can make sure these streets are safer for our children."
According to Police, the rally ended peacefully at around 5:30.