Black Lives Matter | WAMC

Black Lives Matter

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. 

Michael Meeropol: The Promise Of Juneteenth In 2020

Jun 19, 2020

June 19th is an important date in American history.  For my brother, myself and our families, it is the anniversary of the judicial murder of our parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, 67 years ago.   What he and I lived through as a six-year old and a ten-year-old back in 1953 never goes away.   [Calling it murder is not hyperbole.   For the facts underlying the reasoning behind this conclusion as well as details of what actually happened in the case, see Meeropol, Michael, “‘A Spy Who Turned His Family In’: Revisiting David Greenglass and the Rosenberg Case,” American Communist History Volume 17, Issue 2 (May 31, 2018) .]

School bus
Pat Bradley/WAMC

A Vermont school principal has been placed on paid administrative leave for a post on social media about the Black Lives Matter movement that “uniformly appalled” the school board.

Vermont Statehouse
Pat Bradley/WAMC

A day after the words "Black Lives Matter" were painted on the street outside the Vermont state capitol building in Montpelier, the painting was found vandalized Sunday morning. 

Preliminary concept plan for Black Lives Matter street mural in Montpelier
Montpelier City Council

Amid protests nationwide sparked by the death of George Floyd, officials in Vermont’s capital city unanimously approved painting the phrase Black Lives Matter on State Street directly in front of the state’s capital.

Cuomo signs police reform bills on June 12, 2020.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed several police reform measures into law Friday, and says he’ll withhold state funding from local police departments if they do not submit proof that they have worked with their communities to reconfigure their forces. Guests at the ceremony included the mothers of young African American men killed in a police encounter, and the Reverend Al Sharpton.

NYS Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Karen DeWitt

There’s a growing movement to defund the police after the death of George Floyd and other incidents of police brutality sparked nationwide protests. New York leaders say they would rather restructure the forces than cut their budgets.

Messiah Cooper
Jesse King / WAMC

After Sunday’s “Rally for Black Lives” drew roughly 11,000 demonstrators to Troy, organizers with the group Justice for Dahmeek are calling on the city to make sweeping changes to bring about racial justice. 

Ijeoma Oluo at UAlbany Sept 2019
Jackie Orchard

Ijeoma Oluo is a writer and speaker whose work on race has been featured in The Guardian, New York magazine, xoJane, Jezebel, and more. She is also an editor-at-large at The Establishment, and Seattle magazine named her "one of the most influential people" in Seattle.

In "So You Want to Talk About Race," Oluo offers a contemporary, accessible take on the racial landscape in America, addressing head-on such issues as privilege, police brutality, intersectionality, micro-aggressions, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the "N" word. Oluo answers the questions readers don't dare ask, and explains the concepts that continue to elude everyday Americans.

The New York State legislature wrapped up passage of a package of bills on police reform on Wednesday, as the Senate Leader delivered a very personal speech on how systemic racism has affected her life.

New York State Capitol
Karen DeWitt

The New York Assembly and Senate have approved the repeal of a measure that’s been used to shield police disciplinary records from the public. But opponents, including police unions and some Republican senators, say it unfairly singles out officers for scrutiny that other public servants don’t face.

People lie in a roadway with signs
Josh Landes / WAMC

Protests against police brutality brought out thousands of demonstrators across the Northeast this weekend. WAMC was in northern Berkshire County Friday night.