Protests to defund the Ithaca Police Department continued on Wednesday afternoon, with protesters marching through downtown Ithaca and gathering outside of City Hall to make their presence known.?
Traffic was blocked at the intersection of Cayuga Street and Green Street by a combination of protesters' cars and police, as organizer Will Smalls, of Central New York Black Lives Matter, led the group through sweltering heat in chants and calls for Mayor Svante Myrick to come out of the building and answer their demands regarding IPD's budget.
Among the group's chants were the customary calls for justice in the cases of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others, which sparked the initial spate of protests last month both locally and nationwide. More relevant locally, the protesters called for justice for Shaun Greenwood, an unarmed Black man killed during a police stop in 2010, and Nagee Green, the man convicted of killing Anthony Nazaire in 2016 in Ithaca. Green's case has recently been picked up by protesters as an example of police misconduct, as they allege lies by law enforcement led to his conviction.
Smalls was later joined by Kate Leboff, a local activist who?read the Unbroken Promises Initiative's (UPI) second demand letter, which it had debuted at this week's Sunday rally.
"Our leaders have taken no action to make our community safer from police corruption, have done nothing to help the citizens of our community feel safer and have played deceptive games while forgetting they serve us and work for us," Leboff repeated Wednesday. The letter also calls for the elimination of the Ithaca Police Department's SWAT team and the repurposing of its SWAT vehicle for community purposes. Sticking to that theme, it demands the police department demilitarize itself by getting rid of "weapons of war," like AR-15 rifles, and for the weeding out of corrupt police officers, among other similar requests.?
"There will be no peace until there's justice, believe that," Smalls said in a loudspeaker aimed at City Hall. "We're here today to prove to them that we care about ourselves. Black lives matter!"
Chants followed that the city was dragging its feet in answering the demands in the letter, although city officials have said that they haven't seen or received a letter from the group. Myrick, as it turned out, had left City Hall before the group had arrived, unrelated to the protest. After about 30 minutes, the group left City Hall and marched up Green Street, eventually ending at DeWitt Park.?
"We don't want you to talk about it anymore," Smalls said. "We want you to defund IPD."