Thursday, October 30, 2008

Westchester Guardian/The Advocate.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Advocate
Richard Blassberg

Mayor Amicone Fails To Attend Yonkers Events
Reflecting Community’s Concerns And Priorities

A Workshop On Undoing Racism
Saturday, Oct. 18th

Saturday morning, October 18th, The People’s Institute For Survival And Beyond, under the capable, tutorial leadership of founders David Billings and Ron Chisom, conducted a workshop designed to uncover “solutions to address the impact of institutional/structural racism on our local communities.”

Founders and keynote speakers, Billings and Chisom, opened the session at the Riverfront Library, which was attended by some 100 community activists, educators, and local political figures including Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick, and State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. As advertised, the keynoters offered “An Analysis Of The History Of Racism In The United States,” distinguishing between personal prejudice, discrimination, and institutional racism.

Following the initial presentation of more than an hour, and a break for lunch, it was decided that four separate workshops intended to deal with Criminal Justice, Education, Housing, and Immigration Issues as related to institutional racism that were originally scheduled to be presented simultaneously before individual smaller groups dependent upon attendees’ preferred area of interest, would instead be presented in consecutive order before the entire group.

Attorney Mayo Bartlett discusses implications of institutional racism in the Criminal Justice System Attorney Mayo Bartlett, of Young & Bartlett, White Plains, engaged in criminal defense and civil rights law, a former assistant DA in the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, gave a very revealing account of two cases that he happened to be assigned at the same time involving two young male, one from Mount Vernon, who was Black, and another from Bronxville,who was Caucasion.

Each was eligible for Youthful Offender treatment under the law,and neither had a prior record.Each had committed the same offense under strikingly similar circumstances.In the case of the Black youth, no application had been made to seal the file and/or adjudicate the matter in chambers, ordinarily intended to preserve confidentiality.

The District Attorney’s Office was offeringa felony plea plus five years of probation to the youth from Mount Vernon, but a misdemeanor plea, and three years’ probation, to the Bronxville youth. Bartlett explained that he went to his superior expressing his concerns about the different treatment the youngsters were getting, and that his superior then turned around and made them both plead to felonies, with five years’ probation. Bartlett said, “In order not to have institutional racism, we must apply the Law equally in every community of the County.

Heartbroken Loved Ones Of
Young Men Senselessly Murdered
Mourn And Celebrate Their Lives
Sunday, Oct. 19th

Sunday afternoon, October 19th, a memorial service was held at the YWCA in downtown Yonkers, that was a gathering of family and friends of young males who had been killed in the City over the last couple of years. The lives of four such individuals, their stories, and photos,
were presented as family members and clergy spoke out against violence.

The program was entitled, Week Without Violence. It was a “day of remembrance,” an interdenominational candlelight service. The four decedents remembered were: Tyrone Stephan Bergmann, Charles Anthony Taylor, Martin Antonio Perez, and Oumar Zongo, and,
as the program stated, “Other Community Residents Who Recently Lost Their Lives To Needless And Senseless Acts of Violence.”

Speakers included Yejide Okunrivido, Esq., Yonkers YWCA President, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, City Council President
Chuck Lesnick, Rabbi Gerard Cohen, Father Joseph Espaillat, of St. Peter’s Church, Minister Adrian Holmes of Resurrection Deliverance Church, Pastor E. Vanderpuije of The Divine Revelation Fellowship, and Imam Issa, Misjid Al-Houda, each delivering an obituary and words of comfort for the loved ones of the deceased victims.

Virginia Perez, the sister of Martin Antonio Perez, who is attempting to organize a Neighborhood Watch Program, delivered a particularly impassioned statement.

As the obituaries were presented, images of those who had died by senseless violence were projected on a screen beside the nearly 100 persons in attendance, evoking frequent emotional responses.

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