LOCKPORT, N.Y. (WIVB)– With tensions growing between police and communities across the nation, the Peacemakers are doing everything they can to repair the divide and “keep the peace.”
“Sometimes a situation may happen people can be very hostile, in their emotions and not really thinking or not really knowing how to communicate at that moment and we can step in and be a reasonable voice and try to bring some calm. we can be that familiar face and have that relationship where we can calm them down and bring some understanding between the two parties, “said Ezra Scott J.R.
Scott, a former Niagara Falls Councilman, is a part of the Niagara Falls chapter of the Peacemakers. He says with the recent protests on Hertel Avenue and the shooting of Willie Henley by a Buffalo Police officer, the group is looking to expand into Lockport and beyond to ease tensions in the community.
“With the climate that’s been taken place and the political climate, there’s been a lot of division in our country and our cities, and what the Peacemakers strive to do is to be that middle person to help people find out where there are commonalities and create that understanding.”
Scott says the groundwork for the expansion to Lockport was set after 39-year-old Troy Hodge died in police custody in June 2019.
“Because of all the police brutality things that are going on, people are starting to be afraid and I think this way it will give them a focus to say maybe I can make a difference in my community and there is someone who is listening, ” said Lockport resident Paula Halladay.
Halladay says she’s excited to become a part of the Peacemakers and see the positive changes the group can make in the area. She says she’s seen first-hand how a lack of positive leadership can alter a child’s life.
“I just want them to see that they have an outlet too and they know that there’s a choice.They don’t have to be that typical gangster that is stereotypical because you’re black. They can be a leader. They can be a representation of what they want our society to be.”
Along with Niagara Falls and the soon to begin Lockport chapter, the Peacemakers are also in Buffalo and the city’s West Side. Scott says leaders are currently speaking with a school administrator in the NorthTowns to create a chapter in North Tonawanda.
For those wanting to join the Lockport Peacemakers, a general interest meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, September 25 at Outwater Memorial Park.
Talking with Ezra Scott JR of the NF Peacemakers on their latest efforts to build a new chapter in Lockport. Why he says they are needed more than ever to build a bridge between the community and police on @news4buffalo . pic.twitter.com/gfVX8whoy0— Kelly Khatib (@KellyKhatibtv) September 16, 2020
Kelly Khatib is a digital reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.