Black Lives Matter | WAMC

Black Lives Matter

             The newest federal and Massachusetts state holiday was celebrated today in Springfield. WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.               Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in America, was observed in front
Paul Tuthill / WAMC

   The newest federal and Massachusetts state holiday was celebrated today in Springfield.

The entrance to South Station, Monday April 19, 2021.
Dave Lucas / WAMC

Black Lives Matter demonstrators have settled in outside the Albany Police Department’s South Station, where last Wednesday officers and protesters clashed.

Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched through Albany Saturday evening, returning to the city police department’s South Station, where on Wednesday officers clashed with protesters.
Jesse King / WAMC

The Albany Common Council is expected to vote tonight on the use of tear gas by city police. It comes amid days of protest in the city.

Albany Protest 4-17
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Black Lives Matter demonstrators marched through Albany Saturday evening, returning to the city police department’s South Station, where on Wednesday officers clashed with protesters.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan address reporters at South Station as Chief Eric Hawkins looks on.
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

City officials held a press conference Friday afternoon to give a clearer picture of events that unfurled during a protest in Albany Wednesday evening that turned tense when Black Lives Matter protestors threw water bottles and yelled expletives at police officers and police appeared to spray some protestors.

Book cover for "The Devil You Know" and author photo of Charles M. Blow

Acclaimed New York Times columnist and author Charles M. Blow never wanted to write a “race book.” But as both physical and psychological violence against Black people seemed only to increase in recent years, culminating in the historic pandemic and protests of the summer of 2020, he felt compelled to write a new story for Black Americans.

His new book is "The Devil You Know."

A person wearing a mask holds up a fist while speaking into a mic in front of a crowd of hundreds on a lawn below some steps
Josh Landes / WAMC

In a look back at the biggest stories of 2020, WAMC has this review of how the Black Lives Matter civil rights movement led to a historic outpouring of support in Western Massachusetts.

Protesters are separated by a mounted police officer in Saratoga Springs on July 30th, 2020
Lucas Willard / WAMC

In Saratoga Springs, 2020 brought an upended tourism season, a financial emergency at City Hall, yet another push for a new city charter, and loud calls for racial justice. 

Book cover for "Light for the World to See"
HMH Books / HMH Books

Black lives matter. The words are simple, but to put them into practice is a necessary and radical act.

NPR correspondent and New York Times bestselling author, Kwame Alexander’s new book, "Light for the World," is a powerful and provocative collection of poems that cut to the heart of the entrenched racism and oppression in America and eloquently explores ongoing events.

A book in the tradition of James Baldwin’s “A Report from Occupied Territory,” "Light for the World to See" is a lyrical response to the struggles of Black lives in our world . . . to America’s crisis of conscience . . . to the centuries of loss, endless resilience, and unstoppable hope.

Alexander is the bestselling author of 32 books including the Newbery Medal-winning middle grade novel "The Crossover" and the 2020 Caldecott Medal-winning picture book "The Undefeated."

WAMC's Jackie Orchard interviewing Officer Devin Anderson on a Friday night ride-along.
Officer Steve Smith / APD

Following the May death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis Police custody – Albany experienced a slew of protests and riots, New York repealed a law that restricted access to police disciplinary records and a statewide mandate to reimagine policing was instituted. To learn how these events have impacted policing in New York’s capital city, I rode along with an Albany Police lieutenant and spoke with a local Black rights activist.

Book cover for "Why Didn't We Riot?"
Penguin/Random House /

South Carolina–based journalist Issac Bailey joins us to reflect on a wide range of complex, divisive topics—from police brutality and Confederate symbols to respectability politics and white discomfort—which have taken on a fresh urgency with the protest movement sparked by George Floyd’s killing.

Bailey has been honing his views on these issues for the past quarter of a century in his professional and private life, which included an eighteen-year stint as a member of a mostly white Evangelical Christian church.

His new book, “Why Didn’t We Riot? A Black Man in Trumpland,” speaks to and for the millions of Black and Brown people throughout the United States who were effectively pushed back to the back of the bus in the Trump era by a media that prioritized the concerns and feelings of the white working class and an administration that made white supremacists giddy, and explains why the country’s fate in 2020 and beyond is largely in their hands.

Issac Bailey is an award-winning journalist and the James K. Batten Professor of Public Policy at Davidson College.

A black man with a face mask on, a hat, and an NAACP sign kneels in a sun-dappled grassy park surrounded by other masked people
Josh Landes / WAMC

The Berkshire County Branch of the NAACP is holding a Black Lives Matter protest in Pittsfield, Massachusetts this weekend following the police shooting of African-American man Jacob Blake in Wisconsin earlier this month. 

8/28/20 Panel

Aug 28, 2020
Microphone in radio studio

  The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC's Alan Chartock, UAlbany Lecturer in Africana Studies Jennifer Burns, Former EPA Regional Administrator, Visiting Professor at Bennington College, President of Beyond Plastics Judith Enck, and counter-terrorism expert and best-selling author, Malcolm Nance.

Students march at Skidmore College
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Students at Skidmore College rallied for racial justice on the first day of classes Monday.

8/25/20 Panel

Aug 25, 2020
Microphone in radio studio

   The Roundtable Panel: a daily open discussion of issues in the news and beyond.

Today's panelists are WAMC’s Alan Chartock, investigative journalist and UAlbany adjunct professor Rosemary Armao, The Empire Report’s J.P. Miller, and former Associate Editor of The Times Union Mike Spain.

Bill Tryon
Photo provided

Last Saturday on Midday Magazine, we aired an interview with Albany activist Lukee Forbes.

Part of the interview focused on an August 1st “Back the Blue” pro-police rally in Albany, which Forbes attended, along with a small group of other counter-protesters.

During the rally, Forbes, who is Black, dragged a “thin blue line” flag, which he considers a “fake” flag, drawing strong reaction from the largely white crowd of Back the Blue demonstrators. The stylized American flag features black and blue stripes and is commonly seen at conservative rallies.

Lukee Forbes
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Activist Lukee Forbes is ubiquitous at protests and community events throughout the Capital Region. You can usually find him at the front of the crowd, in black clothes black and brown leather work boots.

Pleasant Valley Black Lives Matter Protest, July 18, 2020
Courtesy of the Dutchess County Sheriff's office

Members of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office delivered a presentation Thursday before a county legislature committee about the department’s response to and an analysis of a Black Lives Matter protest in July. Counter-protestors also appeared and tensions escalated into verbal sparring and violence. Legislators had many questions.

Last week, a counter-protest to a pro-police “Back The Blue” rally in Saratoga Springs drew a multi-agency police response. It included officers firing pepper bullets at demonstrators. Young people involved in the counter-protest shared comments with the city council Tuesday night. Meantime, the city has appointed a task force to host discussions on police-community relations in accordance with a state directive. 

Police stand by as rally-goers confront counter-protesters in Albany
Photo provided by Patrick Dodson

A large crowd gathered in front of the state capitol in Albany for a "Back the Blue" pro-police rally Saturday morning, similar to an event held on Thursday in Saratoga Springs.

A woman waves a Trump 2020 campaign flag at counterprotesters during Thursday's "Back The Blue" Rally
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Pro-police demonstrators and counter-protesters faced off last night in Saratoga Springs, where three arrests were made. 

We aired a portion of this interview today in memoriam. 

Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis died on Friday, July 17, 2020. He was 80 years old. 

One of the original 13 Freedom Riders and an eye-witness to many momentous and historic occasions in the last 50+ years of working in public service, Lewis was the son of sharecroppers; he survived a brutal beating by police during a landmark 1965 march in Selma, Alabama; and became a towering figure of the civil rights movement and a longtime US congressman. In 2012, Joe Donahue spoke with him in about his book "Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change." 

The Black Lives Matter flag flies in front of Burlington City Hall
Pat Bradley/WAMC

The Burlington City Council had a number of items on its agenda this week including whether to ask voters to approve a ranked choice voting system for the city.

Photo courtesy Zach Neven /

Protesters who are claiming a white couple waved a gun during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Kinderhook are pressing charges.

Protesters on the steps of Schenectady City Hall
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Protesters risked arrest at Schenectady City Hall Monday night a week after video of a controversial police encounter sparked outcry in the Electric City. 

A woman is led into a patrol car without handcuffs after a couple allegedly waved a gun at Black Lives Matter protesters in Kinderhook on Saturday
Kamal Johnson

Update: Police announced on Monday, July 12th that no arrests have been made and that an investigation is ongoing. Web copy has been updated to reflect these developments. 

A couple was questioned by police after allegedly pointing a gun at a group of Black Lives Matter protesters in Kinderhook Saturday.

Schenectady Police headquarters
Lucas Willard / WAMC

After video of an arrest Monday led to protests outside police headquarters hours later, Schenectady officials announced changes to several police protocols Thursday. 

Tensions between Saratoga Springs residents of color and the city police department were put on full display in an online forum Wednesday night.

Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford
Lucas Willard / WAMC

The Chief of the Schenectady Police Department is urging patience as authorities continue their investigation into a Monday incident where it appeared an officer placed his knee on a man's neck while making an arrest.  

Protesters outside Schenectady Police HQ on Monday
Lucas Willard / WAMC

Protesters gathered outside Schenectady Police headquarters Monday night hours after a video circulated online of what appears to be a police officer holding a man to the ground with his knee on the man’s neck. Now, the mayor says the incident is under review.