The time for change is now.
On Thursday, dozens gathered at Bicentennial Park in Geneva for a Black Lives Matter Rally hosted by Tools for Social Change. It was peaceful, upbeat, and filled with passion. Speakers delivered messages of hope, encouragement, and engagement for those in attendance — calling for the charges against five Geneva High School students to be dropped.
It wasn’t solely about the Geneva High School students, though. It extended far beyond that, as speakers explained that making changes today would benefit all children. Children in large communities, small ones, and every other size in the U.S.Racial tensions have reached a boiling point, as multiple instances of excessive force involving police officers, as well as violence against police officers have pushed the country to the brink. As speakers and spectators called for the charges against those five students to be dropped, many highlighted the impact that taking the plea deal, which was offered to all of them — would have in the long-term.
“It will have an impact on the rest of their lives,” one speaker said as he addressed the crowd. While the Ontario County District Attorney’s Office has offered a plea deal to the five students, which would reduce the time served in jail to just 15 days — many feel as though any time served is too much, given that 50 were involved in the original altercation in June.Multiple speakers called for understanding and humility — citing that compassion would be necessary for all parties to collectively move forward.
One speaker, a former administrator at a local high school, pointed out that the change needs to start inside schools. He explained that teachers have the ultimate power, as they are left with the greatest ability to impact. Administrators are more frequently moving from district to district, which means their moment of impact with students is diminished. However, teachers are often at districts for years, if not decades, which means they can have the greatest impact on the community. He went on explaining that school systems go awry when they begin serving out excessive discipline.
Tools for Social Change meets on Tuesday’s at 6 pm at Mount Olive Church. They encourage the public to attend their meetings, to be a part of an active dialogue.
Check out the rally in the video player above.