PINE ISLAND — Standing on a sidewalk in Pine Island, a group of about 10 or 12 Black Lives Matter protesters braved the brutal heat to wave their flags and signs on Saturday in the quiet downtown.
This is the third time since the death of George Floyd that Pine Island has seen BLM flags flying in downtown as part of a protest.
Shannon McKay said it feels like their presence might be changing things, at least a little bit.
“Every time, there seems to be a few less people, for lack of a better description, flipping us off,” she said as a car drove by honking and giving the protesters thumbs-up signs. “Just us being out here is hopefully educating some people.”
Organizer Alice Kopp explained that the series of protests is about making a statement in the small, predominantly white town.
“We’re here to support our Black community members and our councilwoman (Kelly Leibold), who took a lot of flak for supporting Black Lives Matter,” they said. “We’re here to support people of color and to help make our town more welcoming and safe.”
Kopp and Devale Taylor plan to attend the Pine Island City Council meeting on Tuesday to talk to the community’s leaders.
“We just want to know the agenda of the mayor and the people sitting on the city council. What’s their city’s stance on diversity and equity? We want our voice heard,” he said.
Levenius Hodges, a Rochester man who used to live in Pine Island, stood on the sidewalk waving his flag as the sun beat down on him.
“I’m out here every time. I don’t care about the heat,” he said. “I have a mission to continue the fight to help support my fellow brothers and sisters.”
When a loud pickup truck flying two U.S. flags roared by, Hodges shouted: “That’s great. I love America. That’s why I’m here. I love America.