SOMERS, N.Y. - Somers High School Graduates have planned a Solidarity Rally for Black Lives scheduled from 3-6 p.m. June 4 at Reis Park.
A Facebook flyer for the event instructs attendees to wear a mask and social distance and says the event is "for a time of reflection and growth while listening to the experiences of our community members."
The organizers, Jena Blair, Katie Goldberg and Lucy Lord, are hosting the event along with Race Amity of Northern Westchester and Putnam "to bring awareness to the injustices against the Black community within Westchester County."
Fighting erupted in the comment section of a Facebook post from Town Supervisor Rick Morrissey announcing more details on Tuesday, June 2.
Morrissey said the town did not issue a permit for the rally because "it is in direct conflict with the Governor's COVID related Executive Order on large gatherings."
"However, the Constitution provides citizens the right to hold peaceful rallies and state/local governments cannot interfere with their rights to free speech. Essentially, the First Amendment of United States Constitution provides for peaceful assembly and free speech," Morrissey said. "The Town fully appreciates the frustration that large gatherings during this pandemic have been restricted, especially given the fact than an in-person graduation ceremony for Somers High School Seniors cannot be held. As stated, the First Amendment of the United State Constitution provides for peaceful assembly and free speech."
He said the organizers contacted state police who will be working with Somers Police "to provide a safe enviroment for all."
Katie Goldberg also posted a response to residents' concerns. She wrote the following:
• This "rally" is not affiliated with the BLM movement. It is not a march or a riot. We are not even chanting.
• This is a moment for the Somers community to come together as one and listen to stories shared by the black community.
• We are working with the state and local police to make sure and enforce that everyone wears a mask and social distances.
You can bring signs, but we will not be chanting or walking with them. We want everyone to sit down on the grass 6FT APART and listen to the experiences people in our community have faced. I have spoken with the town supervisor for Somers and we are all clear on what is happening. We appreciate everyone's concern and we are addressing everything to make sure this remains peaceful and safe.
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