A Lovely Victory…?

by suziebanthony

Lovely Warren

Lovely Warren

For those living under a rock, City Council President Lovely Warren won a primary victory against Mayor Tom Richards on the Democrat ticket.  Because Rochester is so heavily saturated with Democrats many believe that the Democrat who wins the primary will ultimately win the election.  That topic is grist for another day as the one-sided politics of Rochester is definitely worthy of further discussion.

What I want to talk about today is the convergence of race and politics in our community.  We come from a rich heritage of social activism, but we have recent examples of extreme bigotry directed at people of color by those in positions of authority.  In the same month that Ms. Warren won the primary a young African-American woman by the name of Brenda Hardaway made news when videotape of her arrest was made public.  In the video the pregnant Hardaway is punched multiple times by a police officer before being thrown to the ground and handcuffed.

Earlier this year Benny Warr, a wheelchair bound African-American man, was assaulted by police and charged with disorderly conduct and other charges while he was waiting for a bus.  This is nothing new to people of color in Rochester, New York.  The Rochester Police Department has officially cracked down on minority groups with Zero Tolerance and Operation Cool Down; two programs designed to disrupt criminal activity, but end up harassing poor men and women of color.  These two programs are also very similar to the NYPD’s Stop and Frisk program which was recently struck down in federal court for violating people’s civil rights.

Ms. Warren is qualified to be mayor in all respects and if elected will be the first African-American woman to be mayor of Rochester, New York.  The question I pose is will her election make a difference to those who have been disenfranchised by previous administrations?  As City Council President Ms. Warren voted with the mayor and the majority of City Council over 90% of the time.  If her views are the same as the mayor’s based on her voting record will her tenure as mayor be more of the same or the breath of fresh air that our city needs?

I’m interested in your thoughts and comments to create a fuller dialogue on this and other complex issues.  Feel free to comment below.

-Suzie B. Anthony

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