Amherst council resolution: Racist mistreatment ‘a wrong that needs to be righted’

  • A vigil organized by the Interfaith Opportunities Network to express solidarity with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and other victims of racial violence drew about 1000 people to the Amherst Town Common on Sunday, May 31, 2020.

Staff Writer
Published: 6/2/2020 2:59:55 PM

AMHERST — A commitment to social justice and public safety practices that are fair and honorable is being made by the Amherst Town Council, which adopted a resolution Monday citing the need to continually do better following the death of George Floyd on May 25.

The resolution, adopted unanimously, states “we are haunted by the searing vision of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on a subdued man’s neck, as other officers witnessed Mr. George Floyd’s pleas for help be ignored by the very people who are trained to help and assist.”

Floyd’s death, the resolution adds, is not an isolated incident in the United States. “The number of names and similar experiences is unconscionably long, and an undeniable part of the history of this nation.”

“We feel compelled to say affirmatively and with real compassion that violence like this is yet another blow to black and brown people — particularly African-American men — who too often are told by our culture that they do not matter. It confirms the lived experience of black men — nationwide and, yes, in our own community. This is a wrong that needs to be righted, and white Americans need to join those who have been carrying this burden, and do the heaviest lifting to right it.”

The resolution allows the Town Council to join other town and school officials, along with Police Chief Scott Livingstone and the town’s police unions, in denouncing the actions and inactions by police officers that resulted in Floyd’s death.

District 2 Councilor Pat DeAngelis offered her own remarks about the injustices suffered by other black Americans, including Breonna Taylor, a young EMT who was killed in her Louisville home in March; Ahmaud Arbery, killed by white vigilantes for the crime of jogging in his Georgia neighborhood; and Christian Cooper, who a white woman claimed threatened her when he asked her to leash her dog in New York City.

“This is not new. It has been going on for years,” DeAngelis said, pointing to the Tulsa Race Massacre that happened on the same date 99 years earlier.

“The deaths of these African-American men, women, and children are emblematic of the racism inherent in our country, our town and in ourselves,” DeAngelis said. “They reveal the disparity between police interactions with white people and black people, and the disparity between existing as a white person and existing as a black person trying to park a car, watching birds, walking with a loved one, playing with toy guns, carrying cellphones, or pill bottles that get identified as guns by police officers with fear and hate in their hearts. Police violence and white threats of violence need to stop.”

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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