OSSINING — In the height to the Black Lives Matter movement, the words “N—– lives don’t matter” were found written across the pavement on Emwilton Place, in front of Ossining High School and Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg’s home, Friday, October 9th.
“The message appears directed at a particular home, but it is also directly across from Ossining High School,” Ossining Police Department said on Twitter along with a purposefully blurred photo of what was written., police said.
Police received a call about the words “N—- lives don’t matter!” scrawled on the roadway and a witness reported seeing a white male with a thin build, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans and a mask, around 6:15 a.m. holding chalk and writing something.
“We’re checking cameras from the area and will continue investigating until we determine the truth,” Ossining Police posted on Facebook. “We’ve said before and will say again, hate is not welcome here. Our police department and our community will not tolerate criminal acts aimed at
intimidating, instilling fear, or terrorizing our neighbors.”
The incident caught the attention of State Senator David Carlucci, who condemned the act. “The racial slur found in front of Town Supervisor Dana Levenberg’s home and Ossining High School was a disgusting act, appearing to incite fear,” Carlucci who represents most of Rockland County and parts of Westchester County in the 38th NYS Senate District, wrote in statement emailed to Black Westchester.
“Racism and hate are cancers perpetuated by intolerant and emboldened individuals. I am saddened this happened in our community where Town Supervisor Levenberg uses her voice to bring people of all backgrounds together. I encourage anyone with information to come forward and speak with police,” the statement continued.
Ossining Town Supervisor who said she was disturbed and horrified expressed she understands it is nothing compared to how it felt to the African-American community.
“As much as I was disturbed and horrified by this hateful language in front of my home, it’s nothing compared to the atrocities black people have suffered and continue to suffer at the hands of white people,” Levenberg shared with Black Westchester. “I will not stop sharing love instead of hate and remaining committed to upend racism in our world.”
We reached out to get a feel of how this act of racism was received by the African-American community in Ossining. Bishop Joan Whittaker, Sr. Pastor of the House of Refuge Apostolic Church (HORAC Ministries) feels while time has come for change, she also looks at this situation as new evidence of systematic racism and feels it could be used to foster such change.
“The perpetrators have provided us with new evidence that systemic racism is alive in Ossining,” share Bishop Whittaker who is often described as a world changer because of the positive impact she has had on individuals and the community. “This evidence will be used to foster a United Ossining. Our community will now work together to bring about reform that will eradicate systemic racism and prove that America has the template to create a world where the color of our skin does not matter. The time has come for change. We are positioned now to recreate our current world and leave a legacy of equality and justice for all. That includes our community of Ossining.”
Community Member Althema Goodson, Founder of Ossining United speaks about this racist act uniting the village.
“As a lifelong resident of Ossining I am saddened, yet not naïve that this has happened here,” Goodson shares with Black Westchester. ” I am however hopeful that with this event and the many things plaguing the world Ossining will put fourth the work, time, and effort to continue uniting our wonderful village.”
Unfortunately racist acts are not new to Black People, or residents of Ossining, especially these days living with the dual pandemics – COVID-19 and Black And Brown people killed at the hands of law enforcement. Local Activist Diana Lemon says, people aren’t outraged anymore, everyone is just desensitized.
“Moments like this aren’t shocking for Black people. We’re desensitized to grotesques exhibitions of white supremacy,” Lemon, CEO of The Black Agenda LLC shared with Black Westchester. “Incidents like this is where everyone should sit in their discomfort and do something about it everyday in everything they do. For those in leadership, as you work, if you truly are about dismantling systemic racism, every decision you make ask yourself how will this effect Black people. Dismantling requires to it happen beyond the news cycle.”
Kemi Pogue, an Ossining Community Leader said more then the obvious racism behind the act, she was equally disturbed the perpetrator felt so comfortable writing the N-word in 2020, that alone needs to be addressed.
“Our Ossining community will not stand for racism! The fact that someone felt so comfortable to target and write this in front of someone’s house is very disturbing,” Kemi Pogue who is the Ossining C.A.P. Director of the Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc., (WestCOP), shared with Black Westchester. “Another reason it bothers me is because it seems like it’s the accepted way of calling somebody the N-word nowadays. This has to be addressed with consequences.”
This is not the first time the village of Ossining has stepped up and condemned the use of the N-Word. As part of an increasing effort to rid the Hudson Valley of a racial slur, more than 100 Ossining High School students joined the student group Project Earthquake at a rally to ban the N word, October 26, 2007. Project Earthquake members wore shirts declaring “Ban the N word,” while other students danced and had a good time at the rally with a message. The group’s effort to ban the racial slur started earlier in the year when it held a lecture and presentation at the school.
“You can’t go to class and use the F word or say another curse, so why can you go to class and use the N word? It’s not acceptable,” said Damien Gillespe, president of Project Earthquake.
The students’ efforts follow recent political movements to achieve the same goal. On Monday, February, 12, 2007 Legislator Clinton Young sponsored a bill, which passed unanimously, symbolically banning the slur. In April 2007, the Mid-Hudson chapter of the NAACP held a symbolic burial for the word in Rockland County.
In Westchester where many claim racism doesn’t exist, examples of hate and racism have sparked throughout the county, In Ossining they have been facing and fighting racism of all kinds. In November 2019, Ossining had an incident that occurred at the high school where a swastika and the n-word were crudely scrawled on a bathroom wall, leaving the community scratching their collective heads to figure out what can they do to prevent future acts of anti-Semitism and racism?
“This department and this community will never stand for hate, intimidation, or an attempt to instill fear in our neighbors. We will always be here to protect our community and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to live with a sense of safety and security,” Ossining Police posted on Twitter at 11:38 AM, Friday morning.
Ossining Police Chief Kevin Sylvester retweeted adding: “Hate will never have a home in Ossining.”
Black Westchester is told that detectives are investigating which includes a canvas of the area for any surveillance or Ring cameras that may have captured the suspect. If you saw something or have information call 914-941-4099 and ask for detectives.