News & Media Coverage

Community leaders planning 'Black & Brown Lives Matter in Brockton' vigil

December 18, 2014  |  The Enterprise  |  Link to article

By Benjamin Paulin

BROCKTON – Two years ago, the Rev. Mackenly Paul was driving on North Cary Street in Brockton with his wife and kids when he was pulled over by a state trooper who told him he was being stopped because he had a taillight out.

The trooper did not give him a ticket, but told him to be sure to get the light fixed, Paul said.

“When he left I had my wife go out of the car and check and I stepped on the brake and it wasn’t broken,” said Paul, who is the minister of Divine Source Ministries, a church on West Elm Street in Brockton.

“I knew the light wasn’t broken, but I thought maybe it’s because I’m black and he wants to see if I’m legit in the street or something. I felt violated when he did that. I was just driving down the street with my wife and kids in the car,” said Paul, who is a native of Haiti.

On Saturday at 10 a.m., Paul will join other clergy members, community leaders and members of the group Brockton Interfaith Community (BIC) to participate in a “Black & Brown Lives Matter in Brockton” vigil and demonstration outside Brockton District Court.

The vigil will be in response to the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, two black men who were killed by white police officers in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y. The deaths led to outrage and protests throughout the country after grand juries in both cases did not indict the officers involved. The deaths also sparked a dialogue about race relations in the country.

In Ferguson, a city near St. Louis, protests against the death of Brown and the lack of an indictment against police officer Darren Wilson sparked riots where the National Guard was called to respond.

In Boston, hundreds have staged protests, which include walking onto major highways, shutting them down.

Saturday’s vigil in Brockton is believed to be the city’s first such demonstration regarding the recent events, which organizers said will be peaceful and meant to create a dialogue about issues young minorities in Brockton face, including racial profiling by police.

“The deaths of many young black men in our society emphasize the racial injustices that plague the system of law in our country, cities and towns,” said Stanley Jean-Noel, a leader of the Brockton Interfaith Community. “Brockton, a ‘majority minority’ community, is no exception. Our police officers are urged to ‘clean the streets’… often unfairly targeting minority youth, whether on foot, driving their cars or merely riding along as passengers.”

The vigil will feature people talking about their experiences of being racially profiled by police in the city, said BIC organizer Julie Aronowitz. She said people of all races and nationalities are invited to attend.

Paul will lead the vigil in prayer Saturday.

“Even though the way it has been spoken is that it is a race issue, we want to say that this is a group of people, black, white, coming together to defend human rights,” Paul said. “There is no justice with what happened. So that’s what makes people angry and it creates fear. If someone else were to kill another person they would serve their time. A lot of people in Brockton are uncomfortable right now.”

Stephen Bernard, the president of the Brockton Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said, “It’s very important that we as leaders in the community are concerned about the lives of young black men and women and concerned about justice and equality as far as the law is concerned.”

“I’m glad that BIC is stepping up and asking people to participate in this vigil. I encourage people to exercise their right to nonviolent protest. It always will be an effective way, an American way, to make a change,” Bernard said, who cannot attend the vigil because of a schedule conflict.

Brockton Police Chief Robert Hayden said they are aware of the vigil and could not discuss any potential security plans, referring questions to the mayor’s office.

“I would expect for us to have some police presence and to have some traffic control to make sure that we direct traffic around it but I do not expect anything of a confrontational manner,” Carpenter said. “It’s strictly just to make sure that we have a safe environment for everybody.”

While Carpenter said he supported BIC’s right to hold the event and said he would be working closely with the group to ensure they have a “successful, safe, peaceful event,” he acknowledged the possible that outsiders could come into the city and disrupt the event.

“Is there a chance that some folks from the outside could come in that we don't know and attempt to be disruptive? I don’t think it’s likely, but I think it’s my responsibility to make sure that the city is prepare to handle any contingency,” Carpenter said.

Benjamin Paulin may be reached at bpaulin@enterprisenews.com.