2020 Community Activism Feature Local government

Peekskill responds to tragedy in Minneapolis with rallies and panel discussion

The events of Memorial Day in Minneapolis around the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers continue to reverberate around the world.  In Peekskill there will be a panel discussion on Facebook LIVE hosted by County Legislator Colin Smith on race, police brutality and accountability, Friday, June 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. BLM Friday conversationAnd on Saturday, a peaceful support system gathering will take place at Depew Park from 3:30 to 4:30, organized by Mayor Andre Rainey.BLM Depew

To view the panel discussion on Friday, go to Legislator Colin Smith’s Facebook page. If attending the Saturday event on Robin Way wear a mask and practice social distancing.

The panel discussion hosted by Legislator Smith includes Peekskill NAACP president Valerie Eaton, Peekskill Presbyterian Pastor Stephany Graham, Westchester Deputy County Executive Ken Jenkins, First Deputy Commissioner for Department of Corrections Lou Molina along with former prosecutor Mayo Bartlett and Pace University Law Professor Randolph McLaughlin.

The conversation will focus on how police brutality impacts our communities and how Westchester County is handling it. “We need to recognize that racism is real and systemic and that solving these structural problems requires collective commitment from all elements of society.” said Westchester County District Attorney Anthony Scarpino.

Panelist Mayo Bartlett, who has spoken in Peekskill on the re-entry to society for formerly incarcerated persons, was appointed by County Executive George Latimer to a working group of stakeholders, charged with reviewing policies and procedures at the county police academy. Latimer expects the report in 30 days and wants to ensure that Westchester County’s law enforcement community is at the forefront of police reform.

In announcing the rally at Depew Park on Saturday, Mayor Andre Rainey said, “These incidents have made the division of our nation more evident.” This isn’t simply a rally against hate, but a rally in favor of unity, which we need in order to move forward successfully. This rally is for all those who have lost their lives amidst hate – specifically those people of color. No life is without value, and we want to create a platform to reflect on that and encourage love over hate. It is important that we move forward and realize, unified, love is stronger than hate.”

“Now is the time to remind our community, Peekskill especially, that we are ONE. We will set an example of how the rest of the world needs to move forward. We will stand together so this community will see and hopefully feel the power of love over hate, unity over war, peace over violence, and the future over the present.”

Numerous speakers will attend the rally including elected officials, police officers, youth,community members, and others who would like to share their views. There will be a balled fist demonstration at the end to signify the unified strength of the community.

“I believe that Peekskill, despite our differences, is one huge family,” said Mayor Rainey. “I also believe, as elected officials and activists, it’s our responsibility to hear the cries and pain, as well as ideas of the people. Everyone in our city – police and residents alike – can agree, this was wrong, and we will not tolerate it.”

BLM at riverfront
Peaceful rally at Riverfront Green last Saturday. 

Saturday’s rally follows two that took place peacefully last Saturday, organized by different groups in Peekskill. At the Riverfront Green at noon, the Peekskill NAACP hosted a protest and at 3 pm at the Plaza outside the Field Library the Peekskill Committee for Justice and the Westchester Dawaii Committee organized another rally.  Pictures from both events were photographed by Ocean Morisset.

BLM on Plaza
Community members in front of library at Saturday’s rally. 

 

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