SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Protests across Sarasota and Manatee counties have remained peaceful and organizers hope to keep it that way.
Ahead of a protest planned for this weekend, Black Lives Matter Manasota Alliance hosted an educational demonstration in partnership with local allies. The event at Payne Park in Sarasota was called ‘What it Means to be an Ally’.
A group gathered on the grass for the event– some with signs in hand.
“As someone who is trying to be an ally, it is really important for me to show my support and be properly educated on how to help,” said Emma Siegel.
Briana Lutzi calls herself an ally coordinator and spoke in front of the crowd Friday with the message of taking future steps.
“I am very proud of the protesters. I want, however, there to be a next step and that is what this event is for. What are other things we can do, how can we ensure that we are not just wildly using our passion, but rather focusing that passion to create real change like calling our local officials, our local representatives here and creating real change in our community,” said Lutzi.
Representatives with Black Lives Matter declined to comment with us Friday pending a meeting with Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino.
Lutzi explained why the group felt the need to highlight protester conduct.
“We were noticing a lot of questionable behavior because there are so many protests. There are so many non-black people trying to take over the Black Lives Matter movement instead of trying to work with it,” said Lutzi.
Lutzi says the goal of non-black allies should be to help amplify black voices, not overpower them. she also denounced agitators.
“The biggest thing to know about de-escalation is to not let it escalate in the first place. Remain calm, do not engage,” said Lutzi.
Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino has met with leaders of multiple protests this week. In a tweet, the police department said ‘all conversations have been positive’.
Black Lives Matter Manasota is hosting a protest Saturday, June 6 at 4 p.m. The group will meet at 1781 Dr. Martin Luther King Way in Sarasota.
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