BUFFALO, NY - A Buffalo Common Council member has become the latest in a line of public figures to protest what he calls injustice during a moment meant to honor the flag of our nation.
“I thought about this for a couple of weeks...more than that actually,” said Masten District Common Council Member Ulysees O. Wingo Sr., who raised a fist in silent protest during the Pledge of Allegiance before Tuesday’s council meeting.
"It was an expression of solidarity with the rest of the country and the rest of the Americans who feel as I do about the devaluing of black lives," Wingo told WGRZ-TV.
According to Wingo, that “devaluing” has been demonstrated in particular, by police shootings involving unarmed African Americans
“Anyone who is not outraged at unarmed Americans being killed, particularly black unarmed Americans…that should be a clear signal there is something wrong in our country," he said.“This is about individuals across the nation who are wearing badges who are literally targeting people of color," said Wingo, while wishing to make clear he was not talking about police in Buffalo.
Moreover, Wingo believes the Pledge of Allegiance phrase "with liberty and justice for all" seems not to apply to all in America, particularly those who are black.
“Liberties for who?” he asked aloud. “And justices? There are so many levels of injustices, and so many levels of systemic issues in this country. Liberty and justice for all...who’s the all?"
He also had a ready response for those who might suggest that a council meeting was neither the time nor place for an elected official to engage in such a protest.
“You tell me, where a good place and a good time is," said Wingo, who indicated that for someone like himself, with some authority vested in him by his constituents, the council meeting served as an ideal bully pulpit from which to effect change.
“We need those who are in power, those who can fix it…to do something about it," he said.
Wingo reports that there has been a backlash to his actions, particularly on social media, which he said he fully expected.
However, he says his fellow lawmakers have said nothing to him about his protest during the Pledge, which he plans to continue at future council meetings.