Franklin County Standout for Racial Justice, May 25, 2022

“Racism Kills”

In Sunderland, Orange, and on Route 2 from Erving to Charlemont125 people participated in the Standout for Racial Justice on May 25, 2022

The second anniversary of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25th, 2020, brought residents of largely rural, predominately European-American Franklin County, Massachusetts, out to streets and bridges to demand justice for all.

In 2021, a large group had gathered on the Sunderland Bridge, linking the towns of Sunderland and Deerfield over the Connecticut River. This year many returned, and not only there.

This year residents aged 2 to 80-plus came out with signs and banners to 12 locations in the county, most along Route 2, the iconic “Mohawk Trail,” an East -West corridor since before the colonial settler era.

Motivations for the Standout centered around the violence, pain and racism of George Floyd’s death, and police killings of many others, but went beyond that. A “Racism kills” sign also spoke to the recent white supremacist massacre of ten African Americans in Buffalo. 

Adding to that was the horror of the murder of 19 children and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas, just the day before.

Racism is present here too. In early May, a jury found the Greenfield police department and its chief guilty of racial discrimination in denying promotion to the only Black officer at the time. Pushback in the chief’s defense from Greenfield’s mayor has created a major controversy, as many locals – most recently the Greenfield Human Rights Commission – are callingfor the resignation or firing of the chief and an implicateddeputy. 

Coming out – and together — helps. Connie Pike has spearheaded a weekly Black Lives Matter vigil in Orange since George Floyd’s death, rain or shine. She wrote of this anniversary Standout for Racial Justice: There were only 8 of us, but we really needed to be together. After the shootings and all that’s going on with the Greenfield police department, the stand-out and being together was comforting, healing.  When one feels so very powerless to do much about improving the state of affairs, standing with others has to be enough and it was.”

Anna Gyorgy

May 26, 2022