ITHACA, N.Y.– This week during Sunday’s weekly rally, tensions between two cohorts of organizers broke when one group formally announced themselves as the Ithaca Patheras, an autonomous organization participating within the rally.
Following a speech from the Unbroken Promises founder, Jordan Clemons, about the mission of his initiative, the Pantheras’ organizers said their intention was to abstain from limiting their focus to “just one agenda.”
The decision was announced before the end of the rally by five organizers to an unexpecting congregation. In their announcement, the group said they felt the need to distinguish themselves and their multiple agendas from the larger group, which has come to include the Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America, as well as the Unbroken Promise Initiative.
Tensions have been obvious between the rally’s lead organizers for a few months since leaders of the Unbroken Promise Initiative began asking the larger group to bring attention and opportunity solely to the West Village and Linderman Creek communities, two communities Clemons says have been neglected by local legislature and private oversight. The group had also been asked by one lead organizer, Yasmin Rashid, to be cognizant of how the protests’ actions might impact and reflect on the communities it seeks to support.
Rashid, who was asked by Clemons to step up to head the rallies and protests back in July, wasn’t in attendance at this week’s rally.
“We’ve been hearing rumblings in the community,” said one Pantheras organizer who asked not to be named. The organizer said that feedback from various community members had prompted the group to distinguish themselves. Another catalyzing decision to create a new group was to ensure that community members weren’t conflating the protests with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“If something happens, we can’t ask Black Lives Matter for any of the $40 million that they’ve got, so we figured we should find some way to identify ourselves because for some reason chanting ‘Black Lives Matter’ automatically associates us with the organization.”
The group didn’t announce a formal agenda, but they did share that its decisions will be determined by everyone involved, not just the few.
The march that followed the rally was different than it had been over the last few weeks. Protesters stopped outside Gimme Coffee! on N. Cayuga to discuss the demotion of a Black employee who was later compensated after launching a claim against the company, according to protesters. They discussed the IPD's budget.
The protests also stalled along restaurant row, where some protesters confronted afternoon diners and onlookers to the applause of some servers.
“I want to say something about the group that we’re forming,” said Genevieve Rand, one of the lead Pantheras organizers, during the announcement. “There’s a lot of questions to ask when people form a new organization and open it up to ask everybody to join. How is it going to run? What’s the structure going to be? How are decisions made? Et cetera. In my experience with building organizations, the best way to do that is to continually draw the structure and the rules collaboratively from every person who’s involved.”