Vigil for victims of police brutality to be held in Belchertown Thursday night

  • Belchertown Town Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 6/24/2020 4:07:53 PM

BELCHERTOWN — Exactly one month after George Floyd was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer in May, a group of local organizers will hold a vigil Thursday night to honor Floyd and other people of color who have been killed as a result of police brutality.

The event, called "Ending the Silence: A Vigil for George Floyd and Black Lives,” will take place on the Belchertown Common beginning at 6:30 p.m. and will last for approximately two hours. The vigil marks exactly one month since Floyd, a Black man, was killed after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes on Memorial Day. 

“We wanted to do something a little different than some of the immediate protests,” said Olivia Smith, 23, one of the protest’s organizers. “I think what we wanted for this particular event was more of an inward, kind of reflective time.”

Demonstrations, including one in Northampton that brought nearly 5,000 people to the city’s police station to protest racial violence and police brutality, have erupted across the country following the death of Floyd. Protests have led to some change; the Northampton City Council this month voted to defund the city’s police department by 10%.

According to the Facebook page for the vigil, the event is meant to honor the lives of Black people killed by police, “to raise up voices of color in Belchertown, to break white silence about racism in Belchertown and to start a long-term conversation about racial justice, accountability and community solidarity” in the town.

Belchertown is a predominately white town, Smith said, so she hoped the event would elevate the voices of people of color in the town so they could share their experience living in the area, hoping that “by hearing them we can make better steps to move forward.” There will be about 10 speakers, almost all of whom are people of color, and community art will be featured at the event, Smith said.

The common will be measured and marked by the vigil’s organizers to encourage social distancing, according to organizers.

Michael Connors can be reached at 

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