SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A peaceful Black Lives Matter protest brought hundreds to Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton.
Due to a large online response, organizers met beforehand with local police to plan out safety protocols. The protest was mostly peaceful. There were a few moments where tensions were raised, but protesters were able to re-focus on what was important: demanding justice for those who have faced racism.
“It’s time for justice now. It’s time for equal rights. It’s time for just better treatment of one another,” Christopher Boone of Scranton said.
Hundreds of people made their way to Courthouse Square in Scranton on Saturday, joining a national movement to peacefully protest racial injustice.
“You need to accept color. If you can’t accept color, every person. All the diversities that there are…who are you?” organizer Ceyonna Rybitski said.
Organizers tell Eyewitness News they met with Scranton Police to discuss safety protocols after they received threats online.
“When I have 130 people messaging me, telling me that they want to kill me and they want to hurt our protesters, then it’s something I need to take into consideration. Maybe I need to tell the police ‘hey we have these threats. What do we do’?” Rybitski said.
During the protest speakers like Boone spoke about their experiences of racism and how to bring about a change. Boone tells Eyewitness News there have been times where he was fearful for his life when interacting with the police.
“There have been instances where I have been pulled over for no reason. Wasn’t speeding or anything. But I was racially profiled. But the policemen actually harassed me,” Boone said.
Tensions rose briefly mid-afternoon after a truck promoting President Trump owned by Bob Bolus drove by and stopped next to the protest. Rick Cephas of Scranton believes the truck was brought to rile the crowd up and turn the protest violent.
“Granted it almost worked, but the thing is the resolve of the Scrantonians here showed that we are better people than that,” Cephas said.
Cephas says the fact that protesters remained peaceful after the incident shows that they truly want change. Organizers say they are proud to see the community come together and stand up for change.