May 28, 2023
Op Eds & Letters To The Editor

Letter To The Editor: Danette Chavis Speaks Truth To Power Concerning The Death Of Raynette Turner

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Note from The Editor-In-Chief: After attending a town hall meeting and candlelight vigil for Raynette Turner, Tuesday night at The Mansion (4 North 3rd Avenue), Danette Chavis of the National Action Against Police Brutality, who’s son Gregory Chavis lost his life at the hands of NYPD, writes this letter to the editor of BW to express her disapproval of Mayor Davis not attending and having a statement read which caused Herman Turner (husband of Raynette) to get up and leave because he felt disrespected by Davis for not attending himself. Danette became fed-up with the elected official who remained silent following the tragic death of Turner. She challenged, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson (a mayoral candidate) whom she felt had answers and the ability to get answers for the family and did not use her power to do so. Below is the letter she sent!
I am not one given to disregard the place of power or the place of authority. I speak “truth to power” and do so in the authority of “righteousness”. And that authority has no regard for “lawlessness” or those who would use the power they have been given in unrighteousness.
11923239_10207496904450991_5475857987782353353_nI attended a town hall meeting in Mount Vernon, where several politicians were in attendance. They sought to convey the will of the mayor, his concern and the ongoing investigation concerning the death of Raynette Turner, who died in police custody. Clearly, they took exception to being told “silence” was unacceptable and that the family of Raynette Turner deserved some answers beyond a blank statement, were “investigating”.
And one by one they took the floor in an attempt exercise some “damage control” by conveying the concern of the mayor, the part they played in obtaining a “special prosecutor” insisting that things were being done in an effort to get to the truth and nearly called all accusations to the contrary “a lie” attributing it to mis-information being distributed.
Senator Ruth Hassell-ThompsonThe problem is they fell short in stating what in fact is actually being done. And here is the point in which things got “heated”. I do not live in that jurisdiction and was an invited guest on the panel and sought only to assist those who called the town hall meeting to address the issues of police in their community. And the death of Raynette Turner was at the top of the page in regards to discussions.
So I was very careful to prevent “over reaching” into issues which I felt those within the community ought “speak the loudest”. But I could not tolerate the “shutting down of their voices” by politicians who insisted they be patient advising the investigation is “a process”. The people who invited me to this panel are more than polite and more than cautious in regards to their handling the situation that ensued.
These politicians were not “called” to the town hall meeting and openly stated so! So where do they get the audacity to interrupt a town hall meeting called for “by the people for the people” and tell those people “shut up, be quiet, and wait on our investigation? Where do they get the withal to claim lies are being disseminated concerning their actions and insist “many things are being done” concerning that investigation and end with “shut up and wait on it”?
11902467_10207496908411090_3600310980004148998_nSuch audacity begged to be challenged and taken to task and I did not hesitate in doing so. This town hall meeting was not called “speak and be heard” for the sake of politicians who have gone “silent” since the death of Raynette Turner. It was called for “the people” and the family of Raynette Turner to get answers and be heard. I could not allow the mayors representative to continue on reading his message from the mayor – not when I saw the rage “rise up” in the husband of Raynette Turner, to the degree he had to walk out of the hall, in order to regain his composure.
Words of “concern” from the mayor in the face of silence from officials investigating was an insult to the injury. And the damage those words caused was not even understood although being told to those attempting to convey it.  And reluctantly, they ceased from speaking. They live in a bubble and outside of that bubble is the “wreckage” of their policy’s created solely for the benefit of those who have seen to it they obtain office. And when those policy’s inflict harm and loss of life “words” is their best offering. And when words fail to smooth over the damage “in comes the team” to insist they’re doing all that can be done, information to the contrary is false, and we should all just sit and “wait on” the results.
Well I beg to defer. The results of their efforts can be seen in the death of a Mother of 8 who was arrested where prior practice of police indicates arrests are not done. The results of their efforts can also be seen in that after making the arrest “no paper work” for her to see the judge was ever prepared. The results of their efforts are also seen in that treatment allegedly given by a hospital for her illness is yet to be established as fact. And if a fact, it is a fact that had been ignored while she laid moaning and groaning in pain while in their custody.
No one monitored her, no one checked on her, and when they did, it was because she had vomited. Police say they took her to another cell not “another doctor” but another cell. Callous disregard for a sick inmate gives “no cause” to believe she was ever treated at any hospital. Callous disregard for the due process rights of an inmate “held over” the weekend, with no paper work to even see a judge, is matter of policy.

Policy’s that allow lackadaisical attitudes in regards to job performance. And these policy’s have been in place long before the death of Raynette Turner. Her death ought not be in vain.  If it means bringing about change so that others will not forego what she endured, then it will have benefited society on the whole. But if not, we are all vain in our existence.

Danette Chavis – National Action Against Police Brutality!

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