This was submitted in response to “Open Letter to Local Lawmakers,” written by Councilman Ed Lachterman.
Dear Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne:
You may have recently seen the opinion written by Ed Lachterman, Yorktown councilman, as an open letter directed to you. In it he asserts a number of things that I think need to be corrected. Number one is his idea that any true concern for the Black community would be shown by demanding more policing in their communities. I don’t know if you are aware, but Mr. Lachterman is not a member of the Black community. I believe the Black community is being represented by the groups such as Black Lives Matter that have been calling for less policing in their communities, because the police presence there often leads to more violence. As I am a white male, I do not presume to speak for the African-American community. Mr. Lachterman seems to think he can.
I base my views on personal experience as a parent of two Black young adults. I had to make sure they understood how to interact with police if they were pulled over when Driving While Black (DWB), especially making sure their hands were always where the officer can see them if they want to survive the encounter. How many white children must be taught that?
So, when it comes to consideration of the various bills before you that address police reform, I ask you to prioritize the views of members of the Black and Brown communities who have been affected by these policing practices.
Mr. Lachterman also claims that a very small amount of police interactions turn into complaints, and even fewer of them are sustained as police abuse. However, this is not the position of the Black and Brown communities, who have been complaining for many years about police abuses in their communities. Again, we need to not tell them what to think, we need to listen.
Finally, it is offensive that Mr. Lachterman continues to refer to demonstrators seeking justice as “mobs” and hysterical. Is he saying that the 1,300 people who protested on June 7 in Yorktown in a Black Lives Matter march, the largest demonstration in Yorktown history, were a mob? Is he saying that all these Black and Brown people all over the country, joined by many white people, who are seeking change in peaceful protests, are nothing but mobs? Having attended several Black Lives Matters actions in Peekskill, Croton-on-Hudson, West Point, and Yorktown, I never saw a mob. I saw groups of peaceful protesters seeking justice.
On Dec. 16, 1773, a group of Americans invaded a British ship and dumped an entire tea shipment into the Boston Harbor to protest taxation without representation. Were they a mob? The British certainly thought so! But we have learned from history that they were heroes. Someday, we will learn that the protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement were heroes, too. I hope Mr. Lachterman will be listening then. Until then, his views are based on dangerous mischaracterizations. Sen. Pete Harckham and Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, please turn your ears to the communities that are crying and dying for change.