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Rally For Lives Lost To Gun Violence, Yosemite Park, Greenburgh, NY

A coalition of gun violence advocates including Wespac, Moms Demand Action, Blacks In Law Enforcement of America, Westchester Corrections Association, Save Mount Vernon, the Westchester Black Political Conference and Black Westchester Magazine hosted a rally for the Black and Brown Lives lost to gun violence, whether at the hands of the police or by those who look like us in the community in Greenburgh’s Yosemite Park on Thursday, August 20, 2020 (see full rally video below).

Speakers included Senator Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Westchester County Legislators Majority Leader Mary Jane Shimsky (District 12 – Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Edgemont, Hartsdale, Hastings-on-Hudson, Irvington and Damon Maher (District 10 – Eastchester, New Rochelle, Tuckahoe), Kenneth Chamberlain Jr – son of was fatally shot on November 19, 2011, The Nolon Family – Donna and James, mother and brother of 23-year-old Michael Nolon who was shot in the parking lot of a Burger King at 826 Central Park Ave. just after 12:30 a.m. Sept. 18, 2016, Naz Duncan – mother of Wilbert “Junior” Francis who was shot 14 times and killed June 10, 2016, Mount Vernon Police Detective Dave Clarke – brother of Devon Clarke who was home visiting from college when he was shot and killed in a robbery gone bad on South 11th Avenue, August 20, 2000, Cynthia Turnquest-Jones of founder the Black Urban Mother’s Partnership (The B.U.M.P), John Morrison – Head Coach of YMCA Boxing Program, KO Boxing. Jesse van Lew of Save Mount Vernon and Adriana Pentz of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

One of the reasons Black Westchester wanted to get involved because senseless gun violence has also touch the lives of the Black Westchester family. Two of the Black Westchester family, Lorraine Lopez and Robert (Dr. Bob) Baskerville have lost brothers to senseless gun violence. Lorraine’s brother, Peter “Pure” Lopez was shot and killed on Lawrence St on February 14, 1998 (Valentine’s day has never been the same for the the Lopez Family) and Dr. Bob’s brother Parrish “Unique” Rhames (father of a one-year-old son) in 1989 in the streets of Mount Vernon on corner of Third avenue and Fourth street.

Lorraine and Bob each lost another brother to the street. Lorraine’s brother Robert Lopez (father of three) was attacked by two men early Tuesday May 24, 2011 outside Sal’s bar and restaurant on Nepperhan Avenue and succumbed to the injuries on May 27, 2011. Bob’s brother Frank “Rausan” Rhames died in the streets of Mount Vernon in a murky situation in 1994.

Dr. Bob was also a victim of gun violence himself. He was shot with a 9mm Easter 1987 in streets of Mount Vernon, along with his friend Robert Hillard who wasn’t as fortunate, he was killed that Easter in 1987.

When can not just be outrage when Black and Brown Lives are lost at the hands of law enforcement. We get outraged, we march and hold rallies and shouts stuff like No Justice, No Peace and Black Lives Matter. But we have to understand for Black lives to matter, Black lives have to first matter to Black People. We can not expect Black Lives to matter to anyone else until the Matter to Black People.

“In order to hold law enforcement and elected officials accountable, we have to hold ourselves accountable. And we do that by dealing with the issues that are affecting out communities” Kenneth Chamberlain Jr, one of the founders of the Westchester Coalition For Police Reform – started after the murder of his father and the Westchester Black Political Conference. “If Black lives are going to matter they have to matter all of the time. They can’t just matter when the police are killing us, it has to matter when we see it happening in our own communities and that’s how we effect change. We have to begin to police our own communities.”

We cannot wait for senseless gun violence to hit our front door, until we lose a member of our family before we get involve in the fight to end the senseless gun violence that effects our communities. Mothers like Naz Duncan are fighting for justice to see their child’s killer brought to justice. While we are here let me also say, knowing about who killed someone in our community leaves them out there free to God forbid kill someone in your family or the family member of someone you know well. I say again if Black Live Matter they must first matter to Black People first. That was the sentiment from most of the speakers, Thursday night.

Others in attendance included Nancy Khader-Maldonado and Fredy Maldonado, the parents of Jonathan Maldonado who died at the hands of Greenburgh Police, Sandy Narain – Mount Vernon Boy’s and Girl’s Club Youth Coordinator, Janelle Allbritton – Publisher of the Westchester Post and host of Speaking Wellness on WVOX.

Picture used courtesy of Dave Clarke’s Facebook page

MVPD Detective Dave Clarke and his family honored his late brother and other victims who lost their lives to gun violence in a candlelight vigil following the rally, Thursday night at Hartley Park in Mount Vernon. They also incorporated those who lost their life to coronavirus in 2020.

“THANK YOU‼️ THANK YOU‼️ To All Who Made It Out Last Night To The Candlelight 🕯 Vigil To End Gun Violence & Remembering Those We Lost To Covid. Thanks For Being There With Me & My Family & All The Other Families Who Lost Loved Ones. Last Night Was A Special Moment For Mount Vernon & I Hope We Can All Walk Away To Make A Difference In The Lives Of The Young People‼️#EndGunViolence#KillingBeef” Dave Clarke shared on his Facebook page Friday morning.

If we are going to end gun violence in our community it is going to take all of us. The legislation Senator Stewart-Cousins spoke of and they work of our elected official is good, but we the people in our communities have to step up and do our part as well. If you see something, say something.

We have to be honest and being willing to have the conversation that senseless gun violence in our community by those who looks like us is an even greater threat that being killed by the police and we need to be equally outrage and speak up against it as well.

On Amnesty International’s website it says, “We all want to live free from fear of gun violence. We all want our loved ones and communities to be safe. This is a human rights crisis, and we must act together.”

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About AJ Woodson (2279 Articles)
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company. AJ is a Father, Brother, Author, Writer, Journalism Fellow, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
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