Ossining, New York – The Rev. Shaun Ellison Jones, Pastor of Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Rev. Joan Whittaker, Pastor of HORAC Ministries, Rev. Mary Phifer, Pastor of Holy Spirit Church, and Mr. Walter King, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Prince Hall Grand Lodge of New York announce that Ossining Clergy and Community Leaders are deeply troubled about the Noose found in the Louis Engle Park and demand justice.
Nooses have been used throughout our country’s sorted history to lynch its citizens and those of African descent. Pastor Shaun Jones stated “the image or display of a noose is very disturbing. For Americans it reminds us of a dark and dismal time in this country when Blacks were considered less than human and treated the same.”
We expect the Village police to perform a full and thorough investigation. Rev. Joan Whitaker, Rev. Shaun Jones, Rev. Mary Phifer and Ms. Sandy Gadsden-McAllister (Ossining NAACP) met with Chief Sylvester on Thursday, Aug. 1st to discuss the seriousness of this incident. Today, August 2nd a letter was sent to Ossining Mary Victoria Gearity, Ossining Chief of Police Kevin Sylvester, and the Village Board to further express the seriousness of this situation. Sandra McAllister stated, “the Black community views this incident in the same manner that the Jewish community would view a swastika spray painted on a wall. Nooses represent white supremacy and a hatred of Black Americans.”
Pastor Mary Phifer stated “It is often said that we here in Ossining, celebrate the diversity of our residents. This is an opportunity for our Police Department and Elected Village officials to stand with and support a segment of that diversity and as such we demand that the perpetrators who displayed this offensive noose be brought to justice.”
While our Country’s president may spew hate, we in Ossining don’t agree with this kind of rhetoric and tangibly support the notion that every resident regardless of their ethnicity should be able to live in a community where they are loved, valued and safe from harassment and hate crimes.
Below is the list of Clergy & Leaders that support this statement.
Pastor Shaun Ellison Jones – Star of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Pastor Mary Phifer – Holy Spirit Church, Pastor Joan Whittaker – HORAC Ministries, Pastor Lisa Merritt-Smith – Full Gospel Tabernacle Church, Pastor Cedric Robinson – St. Matthews & Trinity United Methodist Churches, Mr. Walter King Sr. – WC Enterprises and Mr. Daron Nesmith – Corinthian Lodge 44.
The village of Ossining issued an update at approximately 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 2 after becoming aware of a string hanging from a tree in Louis Engel Waterfront Park that appeared to be tied in a noose.
Ossining Mayor Victoria Gearity said that police immediately began an investigation and the chief has met with members of the local clergy and NAACP. They are currently questioning people who may have been witnesses at the park.
The investigation is ongoing and detectives are seeking the public’s assistance and have asked that anyone with information regarding the incident to call the department at (914) 941-4099.
“A noose hanging from a tree is no different than a burning cross or a painted swastika. It is a call to racist violence, and it has no place in our community,” officials said. “As the investigation unfolds, we will learn if there is any criminal act to be charged and prosecuted.”