I would like to explain why I stand on the Longley Bridge holding a sign proclaiming “Black Lives Matter.”

• To bear witness to and acknowledge the pain of parents, whose sons and daughters are shot first, questions asked later, because they are black and assumed guilty.

• To be in community with and support others who are heartbroken over the violence and hatred all around us.

• To antidote fear, mistrust and anger with love, joy and humor.

It is not easy to endure the taunts and gestures from passersby and the angry diatribes hurled at us by people across the street. I cannot imagine what it must be like to live with such vitriol every day of one’s life.

The first question reporters ask us during our vigils and demonstrations is, “Do you anticipate there will be violence?” I wonder why. We are, in fact, standing up against violence and for peaceful dialogue about people’s differences. The only violence I experienced was in the loud, bullying voices and raised fists of the two or three people trying to outshout us at the rally in Simard-Payne Park and across the street on the bridge.

I offer a line from a song by Holly Near, which some of us sang as we marched last Sunday evening: “We are a gentle, loving people, And we are singing — singing for our lives.”

Bonnie Shulman, Auburn

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