MAHOPAC, N.Y. - Inspired by national events, hundreds of people marched down Route 6 to Chamber Park in Mahopac on Sunday (June 14) where they peacefully showed their solidarity with a local anti-racism movement. Once the crowd arrived at the park, protesters listened to over a dozen speakers and musicians, who shared their experiences with racism in the Mahopac community.
Known as the Mahopac Rally and Protest Against Racism, the march began at the Michael Geary Memorial Roller Hockey Rink before moving to the park, where Andrea Jenkins, a rising senior at Mahopac High School and president of the African American and Caribbean Club, shared her story with the crowd. Jenkins said she’s lived in Mahopac since she was 3 but still fears for her safety. She told Sunday’s protesters she is always on guard in the community as a black female when she goes out, even on runs to the grocery store.
“I just want to see more diversity and inclusion,” she said. “I just want this to be heard. I’m tired of having people say things to me, discriminatory things and prejudiced things, and just have it not be recognized.”
The group that put the protest together—known as Mahopac for Racial Justice—is made up of nearly 30 young adults of color. It has inspired the Mahopac community to voice its own experiences with racism.
“In these troubling times, it is crucial to stand together as one community to advocate for equality, condemn acts of racism and demand solutions from local officials,” Mahopac for Racial Justice stated in a press release.
Organizers set up a table in the park to help people register to vote.
Earlier, Mahopac for Racial Justice had created an Instagram account that posted anonymous stories about racism in the community. In just two days, the group collected over 100 stories from anonymous Mahopac residents. Those stories were hung on a clothespin exhibit around the park as part of the protest.
“No child should have to endure this pain and suffering,” said Joseph Montouri while reading some of the stories at the rally.
Montouri said he has never seen such strong concern for a movement in his 30 years of living in Mahopac.
“We need to fix this,” Montouri said. “It will be hard for students who make bad decisions. But if we don’t control racism, it’s going to continue to thrive.”
Also attending the protest in the park were Town Supervisor Ken Schmitt and councilmen Frank Lombardi and Robert Shanill. State Sen. Pete Harckham was one of the guest speakers.
All attendees were advised to wear masks and adhere to social-distancing guidelines for precautions against COVID-19.
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