Why I took my 2-year-old to the Black Lives Matter protest
Standing next to a sign that reads, “Why We Are Here It Matter, Black Lives Matter,” 2-year-old Madison Phillips joined the protests Sunday in Downtown Brooklyn amid mounting fury over the death of George Floyd.
The tot’s mother, Suzette Kennedy, says she brought along her daughter to the demonstration so that she could “witness history.”
“I am a first-generation immigrant from Panama, and I hope and pray that, in the future, my child does not see the racism I have,” Kennedy, 29, tells The Post. “We are protesting to safeguard her generation and the ones after that.”
Kennedy, who declined to discuss her occupation, proudly posted an image of her daughter holding a fist in the air on social media with protesters gathered at the Barclays Center in the background.
“Even if she doesn’t quite understand what is going on today I will show her photos when she is around 4 and say: ‘You did your part to fight for justice,’ ” she says.
Violence has erupted in New York, as well as other major cities such as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, as unrest over Floyd’s death in Minneapolis has led to looting and clashes with the police. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a citywide curfew on Monday, joining other cities that have done the same.
However, Kennedy dismissed any suggestion she might have put Madison in danger, insisting she kept her away from the crowds at a safe spot on the corner of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues.
“Where we were, it was a calm, peaceful protest and if anything had changed, I would have left immediately,” she says.
“I was protesting down near the Manhattan Bridge on Friday and Saturday nights where the police were using pepper spray, so there was no way I’d take Madison anywhere near there,” she adds.
Kennedy says that while protesting, it’s important to “remain alert and be aware of your surroundings, as the NYPD is unpredictable.”
”The last thing I’d want for her to be is pepper-sprayed,” she says. “I mean, what are the police going to say if that happens? ‘Sorry?’ ”
Kennedy, who has a YouTube channel, says she was painfully aware of the young girl in Seattle, who was caught up in a riot and had mace used against her. Helpers poured milk over the child’s eyes to reduce the stinging, as seen in now-viral images.
“I found it devastating that a cop could do that to a kid,” she says. “It was scary.”
The Seattle incident created a Twitter storm as some people slammed the girl’s parents for bringing her to the violent protests.
“To the parents who let their kids go protest, that’s bad parenting and unreasonable,” user Ruben Mendoza tweeted.
Others offered support, including Ali Smith, who said: “Saw quite a few parents taking their kids to the protest and it was really nice. You’re never to young to learn the importance of standing up for what’s right.”
Kennedy also wants Madison to learn from her experience at her first protest, but wishes her daughter won’t have to do so someday.
“I want to teach Madison how to carry herself [at these protests] but pray, because of the action we are taking today, they will be a thing of the past when she is older,” she says.
Despite images showing mass chaos the previous nights, Kennedy says she saw a fellow mother with a baby in a stroller on Sunday handing out water near their location on Flatbush and Atlantic, noting that the protesters seemed to be very protective of both them and Madison.
“It was quite moving as they were saying: ‘We’re doing this for you.’ ”
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