Photo: Denise Civiletti

Members of the Riverhead Charter School community and friends marched in downtown Riverhead in an organized, peaceful Juneteenth protest.

Charter school students and their families marched with teachers, school administrators and board members, carrying signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter,” “BLM” and “All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter.” Many wore shirts with phrases now all too familiar to us all, such as, “I can’t breathe.”

The group of protesters, numbering about 75 men, women and children of all races and ethnicities, marched from the Peconic Riverfront to Peconic Avenue, north to Main Street and then east on Main Street to the lawn outside Riverhead Town Hall.

There, several marchers addressed the group.

“It’s very important that everybody stands up,” said one marcher, the mother of a charter school student.

“I have black son. At what age does he become a threat? He’s 10 years old. How can he walk these streets if we don’t stand up for him? How can he go to school and not be categorized as a black young gangster? How can we work for our kids’ future if we don’t stand up for them today?” she asked.

“When that man said, ‘Mama — I can’t breathe,’ it gave me chills.”

Riverhead Charter School board president Aimee Lomonaco said how proud she was of the charter school, seeing everyone turn out in a unified way for the Juneteenth march.

“This is what our school is about and this is who we are,” Lomonaco said.

“And to you, mom,” she said, addressing the previous speaker, “I’m a mom of sons, too. I got two boys and I promise you as their mother that my white boys will stand next to your black boys and they will fight this battle,” Lomonaco said.

“And I urge every person who looks like me that came here today to know this is your fight,” she said. “It is not on our brothers and sisters to fight this fight. This is our fight to fight for them as good allies,” she said. “Until black lives matter, nothing else matters.”

Before the group left town hall, they thanked the police officers who handled traffic control and assisted them with logistics. Then they gave the cops who were standing by a round of applause.

The marchers then headed west on East Main Street to the Peconic Riverfront where the event began.

The march was organized by Riverhead Charter School superintendent Raymond Ankrum and the school’s director of academics Nick Timpone.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.