Community connection

The BLM Movement

Ashley (Ashli) T., Copy Editor

As this eventful school year draws to a close and many graduating students prepare their bags to enter a brand-new college environment, there is a meaningful movement sweeping across the globe, including the town of Commack. 


The “Black Lives Matter” movement erupted in late May after the death of Ahmaud Arbery on February 23 and George Floyd on May 25. 


Across America, and even outside of the U.S., protests began as many people took to the streets to use their voices on the behalf of those who were killed in racist violence and police brutality. 


Just like many of the larger towns and cities of the United States, Commack has had many protests of its own, allowing our community to engage with this movement. 


“[The BLM movement] is something that has been going on for a while and I think that what recently happened with George Floyd brought so much attention to it, and I think that it is so powerful that everyone can come together and make a difference,” said Danielle Tonso, Commack High School alumna. 


For different people, the movement has different impacts. 


“For me, as a white person, the movement is that I can do anything in this country, there are no limits for me based on my skin color or the way that I look or the way that I talk or where I was raised and it is unjust on a level that isn’t even explainable that there are people that are either born in this country or that come to this country that, just based on the color of [their] skin, those things are not open to [them],” said Olivia De Sonne Ammaccapane ’15 Commack High School alumna. 


Some believe that the values of this movement need to be vocalized in Commack.  


“It is definitely important to raise awareness for Black Lives Matter, and there is a ton of racism in [Commack], so [the protests are] important for change and this community definitely needs it,” said Natalia Terrero, Commack High School alumna. 


Many of the concerns from community members about the protests regards violence seen in the media happening at protests in large cities such as Washington D.C., however, those who have attended protests on Long Island assure that there is nothing to fear in terms of violence. 


“I saw 450-500 people standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement filled with a drive, a hunger for change and love and support for each other [] Not a single [act] of violence,” said Adam Brett ‘18 Commack High School alumnus. 


Protestors observed that the presence of police officers did not disrupt the protest. 


“The police officers were really respectful as far as I could tell. They were basically just there to keep us safe. It is easy for them to do that in a community like Commack where 50% of the people there were probably white or white passing, and a lot of the people had no intention of getting riled up,” said De Sonne Ammaccapane. 


Some question the movement because of the concern that peaceful protests may not incite change, but protestors explain what their actions do to achieve their end goals. 


The end goal is equality. Fighting for justice and protesting is just a small step. Obviously peaceful protesting is not guaranteed to get us what we want and that’s why a lot of people have been doing other things, [they] have been violent, [they] have been looting, [they] have been trying to get their voices heard, because unfortunately, in this world, when people peacefully protest, their voices really aren’t heard,” said Terrero.


The reasons why these protestors feel that their voices need to be heard spans so many reasons that ultimately deal with justice. 


“Especially in our democracy, it is extremely important for people to come out and show the government what we actually stand for, especially now in corporate America with all these big businesses that people fund. People don’t realize that there is so much more than the killing of George Floyd,” said activist Ginger Sherry. 


Ultimately, the reasons why people protest are different for everyone, but they all have the same end goals. 


“I protest because I do feel an obligation as a United States citizen and a New Yorker to represent these people because America is about unity. We are all a country together, we were built on multiple nationalities, different races of people. They built up this country, and to not give back to these people who are just working class citizens like me, who are artists, who are just people among us, we are all the same, we all bleed red, and I protest because I have to and I want to,” said Leonidas Abbate, Commack High School alumna. 


Many of the protestors also have advice on how people can better support the movement in their own ways. 


“Don’t stop. Donate to funds and charities, sign petitions, protest, have conversations with your friends and family. This fire is not going to die. It might go down, but it is not going to die,” said Brett. 


If one cannot donate to the cause or join protests, there are simpler ways that one can support the movement from home. 


“Just [be] open minded and [want] to learn about different perspectives. [Take] it upon yourself to educate yourself, whether that’s asking a friend, or doing research, or becoming more involved,” said Tonso. 🔳