Milo talon: a novel

Show captionHide captionTalon Thomas, 28, BinghamtonAshley Biviano / Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

On the morning of May 31, Talon Thomas woke up, got dressed and made his children breakfast. 

He had no idea that by nightfall, he’d be the face of peaceful protest in Binghamton, Thành Phố New York, after the police killing of George Floyd.

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Thomas prayed before the march began. He said, “We’ll bởi God’s work.”

And in Binghamton, “We did that.”

Thomas, also known as Juneboi, is one-third of Brothers Over All (B.O.A.), a gospel rap group he formed a couple years ago along with his brother, Collin Thomas, & "brother from another mother" Raphael Jones.

The trio perform original rhythm & blues, rap & hip-hop tunes with a positive — và often religious — message. 

Unexpected activist speaks about first protest
Talon Thomas speaks about how he planned on just marching May 31, and by the next morning he was viewed by many as a leader và activist.
Ashley Biviano,

"We"re just getting fired up": Watch "Rise Up," Thomas" music video about protests, inequality

On the day of that first march, Thomas stood near the downtown statue of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. và quý phái the B.O.A tuy nhiên “Rise up,” naming some of those who died at the hands of police. A crowd gathered, lifting their phones to lớn record the moment.

Police presence didn’t deter the groundswell of music & voices lifted -- a far cry from just a week earlier, when a police officer unholstered her gun as she approached Thomas in his own driveway.

‘You can shut down an entire city’ 

The first time police put a gun to the baông chồng of Talon Thomas’ head, he was 14.

He was out walking with his brother và a frikết thúc, he says, when they had a run-in with a drunk man & his dog. Police arrived, surrounded the trio, và Thomas wound up flat on the ground with a pistol khổng lồ his head.

That was the first time. It wasn’t the last.

Activist: "I"ve sầu been harassed by police, falsely accused"
Talon Thomas says beatings by Binghamton police aren"t common, but "false charges" và pushing Blacks into the system is common.
Ashley Biviano,

Thomas spent some time in North Carolina before returning khổng lồ Binghamton in 2017. In Charlotte, he lived on the streets, sold drugs, gambled and ran with gangs. Many of his friends are in jail or dead now.

But this is Thomas three years later: standing atop of a vehicle và helping to guide one of the largest protests downtown Binghamton has seen.

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Thomas raised his fist.

The crowd raised theirs. 

Near Washington Street, Thomas did it again, this time while standing in the street. Hundreds of marchers knelt silently. 

"I felt out of myself," Thomas said. "Even now, thinking bachồng on it, something took over me. God put me there, & that was needed."

It took hyên ổn days khổng lồ get his voice baông xã. But Thomas said he was just being his energetic self. "If you ask anyone I knew as a kid, growing up, on the football field — they"ll tell you that"s just who Talon Thomas is.”

If the endgame is peace, Talon said, everyone must do their part. 

What else happened at the protest: Binghamton prochạy thử draws hundreds for peaceful event

What Talon believes needs to lớn happen in Binghamton

A youth center created, with a childcare option with costs covered by the state.Affordable và livable housing.Programs for prisoners returning home khổng lồ Binghamton.Youth football & basketball programs.A homeless shelter that provides more than the existing one.

Going forward: Faith & footwork 

"These kids walk up và down the street, they need lớn know that this isn"t it," he said. "Binghamton doesn"t determine who you are. You determine what Binghamton is."

Since he woke up June 1 an activist, Thomas has orchestrated half a dozen events. He’s attended rallies và marches, but the events he organizes are geared toward youth and artists.

Brothers Over All performs at Juneteenth event
Talon Thomas, one of three members of gospel rap trio Brothers Over All performs at a Juneteenth event he helped organize.
Ashley Biviano,

He put together a Juneteenth celebration & “A Day Out of Quarantine” at a local park, with all the trappings of summer fun: bounce houses, DJs, không tính tiền food, vendors & performers.

“I’m doing this for the youth. They need khổng lồ know that doors are open for them and we will make sure doors will continue to open,” he said. “If the door is open, these kids will walk through it. They don’t walk in shame, they just need a door lớn open for them, and that’s what I’m trying to lớn vì chưng.”

Thomas never made it past 10th grade. He went khổng lồ regular school, alternative sầu school, two other schools, then got kicked out.

“When you’re put in a padded room – an actual padded room – in second grade, that … sticks with you,” he said. “That’s just the start of preparing Black people for a prison cell. So, we need to lớn not only change the way our schools operate, but also work with our youth so they don’t fall into the trap.”

Juneteenth in Binghamton: Community members gather to lớn celebrate

He is also working with a local Blaông xã filmmaker, Mani Griffin, on “The Binghamton Documentary,” which will show the Blachồng narrative of the current climate through the authentic Blachồng lens.

Blaông chồng narrative told by Blaông chồng voices will bring a more just community
Talon Thomas said for a more just Binghamton, the actions should be shown through an authentic Blaông chồng lens, hence "The Binghamton Documentary."
Ashley Biviano,

Thomas says he knows he’s not perfect, that his activism has a learning curve. But he sees the potential for his work on a national scale: If youth are secure, he reasons, they’re less likely to wind up in prison or jail, and the penal system would eat up less money.

Thomas wasn’t looking to lớn be an activist. But he says he’ll keep putting in the work – everything else is up to Jesus Christ.

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"Let God handle the rest," he said. "God is the only person who can change the heart of a man, & as long we vì our part, which is faith and footwork, then God will handle the rest."

How you can get involved

News: Binghamton Press và Sun-BulletinTake action: Vote. Join groups khổng lồ learn how to lớn advocate for your community. Support local journalism to lớn stay informed.

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The team behind Justice in My Town

REPORTING: Brian Gordon (Asheville, NC), Alex English (Athens, GA), Ashley Biviano (Binghamton, NY), Ed Palattella (Erie, PA), Angelia Davis (Greenville, SC), Wilton Jackson (Jackson, MS), Adria Walker (Rochester, NY), Rebecca Sitzes (Shelby, NC), Future Brown (Sherman, TX), Monique Calello (Staunton, VA), Scott Linesburgh (Stockton, CA), Jasmine Vaughn-Hall (York, PA)

PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY:Angeli Wright (Asheville, NC), Joshua L. Jones (Athens, GA), Ashley Biviano (Binghamton, NY), Jack Hanrahan (Erie, PA), Matt Burkhartt (Greenville, SC), Barbara Gauntt (Jackson, MS), Tina MacIntyre-Yee (Rochester, NY), Brittany Randolph (Shelby, NC), Future Brown (Sherman, TX), Holly Marcus (Staunton, VA), Clifford Oto (Stockton, CA), Cameron Clark (York, PA)

GRAPHICS:Daniella Medimãng cầu

EDITORS:Michael Kilian, Kristen Cox Roby, Jeffrey Schwaner, Mark Liu


SOCIAL MEDIA, ENGAGEMENT AND PROMOTION:Sarah Robinson, Amãng cầu Hurler, Melanie Balakit, Daniella Medina

Chuyên mục: Tin Tức