By Bridget Bonanni
A large crowd of residents and officials from throughout Westchester gathered peacefully in Tibbits Park late Monday afternoon aiming to highlight the importance of the need for police reform in Westchester and beyond.
The Westchester Rockland Guardians Association organized the Law Enforcement on the Right Side of Justice Rally. A large turnout wore face coverings and followed social distancing guidelines while demanding justice for George Floyd and other victims of police brutality.
Officials, politicians, retired police officers and supporters addressed the crowd, advocating for reform of police departments across America and support for the black community that is disproportionately affected by violence at the hands of law enforcement.
Mount Vernon Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard was a key speaker at the rally.
“We have to find a purpose to the pain and repeal the laws that allow this type of behavior,” said Patterson-Howard. “We want to make sure that policing is still an honorable profession…the scales of justice have been unbalanced for far too long.”
Paul Hood, president of the Westchester Rockland Guardians Association, planned and organized the rally with his team.
“I don’t just want this to be a one-time thing, I want it to be more than just words; words have power and I want to put that power to use,” Hood said.
He expressed hope that the demonstration and others like it will inspire further action to prevent more lives lost.
“Ultimately, black lives matter and we need to be speaking up and we need to be there for each other no matter what race, religion, or anything, it doesn’t matter,” said one attendee of the rally, a woman who identified herself as Jenny. “A life was lost and it needs to be noticed and we need to speak up for it. It is not okay and it is happening.”
“As a black woman, I’m ashamed that it took a man screaming out and having to see his life leave his body for me to come out,” said another demonstrator. “It’s unacceptable, enough is enough and coming to this is the least I could do.”