Jun 01, 2020 by Ray Spiteri The Niagara Falls Review
As massive Black Lives Matter protests continue across the United States, a Niagara Falls woman wants people to know that racism is “alive and breathing” in Canada as well.
Sherri Darlene, a local Black woman who said she has been the victim of racism, has organized a #Justice4BlackLives peaceful demonstration Saturday in Niagara Falls between noon and 4 p.m.
Demonstrators are expected to stand two metres apart on both sides of the sidewalk along Victoria Avenue, starting at the entrance to Highway 420.
Event organizers encourage all participants to wear black to show unity.
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Organizers also encourage participants to bring signs and be a “part of the fight for change.”
Sherri, who did not want to provide her last name due to safety concerns, said the event is being held not only because of the death last week of George Floyd, a Black man killed in Minneapolis after a police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes, but also because of past incidents involving Black people and police and to shed light on how Black lives can be perceived not just in the U.S.
“Black lives seem to be disposable,” she said.
Sherri said outright racism and ignorance towards people of colour is not just an American problem — and she is a perfect example.
“Walk one day in my shoes, right here, in Niagara Falls, Ont.,” she said.
Sherri said she was hanging up fliers Saturday in a local neighbourhood to promote the demonstration and felt the stares of onlookers.
“You would have thought we were aliens getting out of the car — four Black women hanging up signs,” she said.
“I’m sure it was just curiosity, as to ‘What are these Black women doing in our neighbourhood?’ but five minutes later, a pickup truck with grown white men drove by and yelled out of the window, ‘Get the f–k out of our neighbourhood, you’re going to start a riot you f–king idiots.'”
Sherri said she regularly encounters “some sort of ignorance,” including comments such as “Oh, you speak very well for a Black person.”
“Well, I’m confused what that means?”
Sometimes the comments are much more direct, including use of the N-word.
Sherri said since she’s started promoting Saturday’s demonstration, she has received an overwhelming response, including from cities outside of Niagara.
“I’ve got groups telling me, ‘We’re renting vans, we’re coming.'”
To plan for the possibility of a large showing, Sherri said she is reaching out to Niagara Regional Police to discuss a possible marching route down to River Road.
“I have a woman in Niagara Falls, N.Y., who wants to bring their protesters to the wall on the American side, so if we’re on River Road … we can show our U.S. brothers and sisters that we’re with them in solidarity.”
Sherri said that would depend on how many attend Saturday’s demonstration.
“If we don’t have those big numbers, then we don’t need to do that,” she said.
“But we really want to put an emphasis on physical distancing — we want to respect people’s safety and their health concerns. If we get those large numbers, we can’t have a big group like that standing still, and it will be a lot easier for people to practice proper physical distancing if we have a moving crowd.”