In today’s digital age it is too easy to spread inflammatory speech. My post about youth ATV riders on the Geddes St. sidewalks generated many concerning comments. Upon reflection of my immediate reaction, posting photos and language that stigmatized young people of color was inappropriate due to the fact that in the United States today, an encounter between young black men and police results in a disproportionately high chance that they will enter the system of incarceration or worse as we have seen with the recent police murders of Philando Castile, Charleena Lyles, and too many more.
I appreciate that friends and community members took time to help me understand the ways that my response was problematic. It’s up to all of us to acknowledge how we reinforce racism, even if unknowingly, and strive to dismantle those structures. I take full responsibility for allowing such statements to proliferate on my post of May 29th before I removed the post from public view on May 30th; and I will work diligently to condemn and prevent any racist speech on my websites and social media.
On this recent weekend of the Pride Parade and Juneteenth celebrations in Syracuse, it is as important as ever to recognize this, especially in light of the recent political events that have emboldened racist ideologies. Here is what I intend going forward.
I reiterate here, my pledge as a candidate at the TNT Southside Forum on May 31st, that I will work diligently to create a City where policing is a last resort.
I ask others to join me in educational and awareness work to understand the roots of challenges facing our city so that we can find solutions, to the issue of policing culture, violence in the community, and other quality of life issues such as the atv/dirtbike issue. As such, I have created a list of resources that can be publicly shared and added to collectively.
I will continue to speak out for comprehensive safety solutions as I did after the hit and run death of Seth Collier on North Salina St by Peter Rauch, a former Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office Investigator; and as I have done in neighborhood stop sign and speed hump advocacy for the NWS neighborhood where 2-year old Jameisha Stanford was killed by a hit and run driver.
I urge all of us, especially those afforded relative privilege, to reflect on how our actions contribute to reinforcing structures of oppression and to be willing to do the hard and patient work of finding solutions to end structural inequalities and create a harmonious socio-economic system in Syracuse where everyone lives a safe and dignified life.