‘To Challenge And Change Injustice’: Weekly Neighborhood Vigil Against Police Killings Enters Ninth Month

Since June 2020, a group of neighbors have stood at the intersection of San Jose and Geneva avenues to hold signs against police violence every Thursday.

Photo collage courtesy of Cayuga Community Connectors
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Every Thursday since early June, a group of Ingleside and Cayuga Terrace neighbors bearing Black Lives Matters signs gather at the intersection of Geneva and San Jose avenues for the Vigil for Justice.

“We vigil,” 84-year-old organizer Rev. Glenda Hope said. “We don’t march. We don’t sing. And no one makes a speech. We just show up and hold our simple signs.”

Hope started the vigil after the police killing of George Floyd. It inspired two vigils in other neighborhoods.

“It’s a faith issue,” Hope said. “The Christian call to challenge and change injustice.”

For Jane Merschen, one of the first to join the vigil, her commitment reflects the Jewish response to injustice and the need to create balance in the world.

“The cop was so nonchalant about killing George Floyd,” Merchen said. “If I don’t do something, it might as well be my knee on his neck.”

Adele Brookman, a Philadelphia native, attended an integrated high school during the Civil Rights era.

“The first day I walked up to the school and saw some Black guys playing around, my stomach tightened,” Brookman said. “I realized I was afraid.”

She didn’t want to be a racist, so after pausing to collect herself, she walked over to the guys and introduced herself.

“We’re all still friends,” she said. Her husband Noah Weaker doesn’t want people to forget the racism and intolerance around us.

“We need to make racism as visible as possible, so people are aware,” Weaker said.

With one hand on his cane and the other holding a Black Lives Matter sign, Mike Monley sees the vigil as an opportunity to increase awareness.

“The deck has been stacked against Blacks for too long,” Monley said. “We need to get that message out there until we have an equitable society.”

“We want passersby to think about the injustices Blacks continue to suffer,” Monley added. “It feels good when people honk and wave to us. We’re giving a little joy to passersby. Maybe they’ll even discuss it on their drive home.”

Nicky Trasvina offers another reason for her participation.

“We need brown people holding up signs; this is not just a Black and white issue,” Trasvina said. “I’m holding my sign for Alex Nieto, he was such a gentle man. I think he and my son would have been friends if my son lived.”

Some days more people join in, some days fewer. And then there are some, like Kathy Connor who stand with her neighbors in a cause she believes in.

The group has been testifying every Thursday evening. Everyone is welcome. No invite is necessary to join and extra signs are available.

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