Local businessman set to march in North Buffalo, Rochester this weekend

Sep 4, 2020

Compelled by a need to stand up to injustice, a Buffalo man is heading east to join protests which have touched off in Rochester after video was released of a March arrest which left 41-year old Daniel Prude dead.

WEPUMP 716 Founder Stevo Johnson
Credit Stevo Johnson

City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren announced on Thursday, the suspension of seven officers involved Prude’s arrest.

Stevo Johnson is a local Fashion Designer and Founder of WEPUMP 716, and through WEPUMP, he is organizing a drive to provide refreshments to protestors in Rochester. Having attended the Black Lives Matter march in Washington, D.C. last weekend, Johnson said it is imperative to have people on the scene providing nourishment for protestors.

“We got the call last night,” he said. “That we are needed in Rochester, so we’ll be in Rochester to help out there.”

And Johnson says he’s not going to Rochester simply to deliver food and drink. He is dismayed by the almost daily viral videos of African American’s being assaulted or killed at the hands of law enforcement.

“The thing about it,” he said. “Is that it’s happening so frequently that any day of the week, any time, any second, any minute, it could be me, or a peer, or someone’s child. We have to up against injustice of all kind because that’s the right thing to do.”

But before Johnson and his team head to Rochester, they have some business to finish in Buffalo. He has organized a Friday evening march, starting at the intersection of Hertel and Delaware Avenues, going east towards Main Street. Johnson is getting Buffalo’s East Side community to come together to ask why, in the wake of the recent incidents on Hertel, are Black people treated with such disdain in North Buffalo, and why has it taken Hertel Avenue business leaders so long to denounce such vitriol as seen in front of MT Pockets.

“And if we have to show up and say ‘listen, it’s time to do better,’” he said. “And the one thing I’ve always spoke on, and I’ll continue to speak on is ‘doing better’ is a universal language.”

Johnson said East Side residents patronize businesses in every neighborhood in the City of Buffalo and would like to see that love reciprocated.

“We are expecting that the other businesses on Hertel Avenue stand up and say we don’t condone this type of behavior,” he said. “’And we want African Americans, and we want people of color to patronize our businesses and we want to do business with them.’”

Late Thursday evening, the Hertel Business Association released a statement saying MT Pockets is not a member of the association, and the racist behavior seen on video is not a reflection on the rest of the neighborhood.