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September 5th, 2012

Serious surgery is needed in the City of Newburgh

Lillie Howard
Taking into consideration what has transpired this past week, one has to believe that serious surgery is in dire need for the City of Newburgh.

This past August 27th, a birthday celebration was held in honor of Michael Lembhard, whose life was snatched away from him by two City of Newburgh policemen on March 7, 2012. Despite Michael no longer being here, the family wanted to celebrate his life and organized a “People’s Unity Rally” in celebration of what would have been Michael’s 23rd birthday.

There was no violence whatsoever displayed at the rally,  only love and much togetherness. Maybe that’s what made those who were against the rally so upset; they saw people of various cultures coming together against the nationwide problem of police brutality. The celebration ended around 7 p.m., therefore anything that took place after that was not part of the rally.

Truthfully, taking into consideration the celebration that had been going on earlier, it seems that a little sensitivity should have been coming forth from the powers that be. These young people were in pain due to the loss of their loved one’s life, and therefore serious thought should have been used on that evening. It seemed like a deliberate move to incite an already painful situation. That’s not surprising because in all of the police murders that have happened, there has never been any display of concern towards the families. If the shoe had been on the other foot I’m quite sure there would have been much rage. But that would have been looked upon as justifiable rage.

I must commend all of the participants of the rally, for they all brought forth very important messages. Even though their loved ones’ lives were not snatched away by City of Newburgh police, they were snatched away by police in other areas. In fact, since January 2012, more than 110 African Americans’ lives have been snatched away by police throughout the country. At least 210 people have been killed by the New York Police Department since Amadou Diallo, which was in 1999.

There are groups fighting this police massacre, including The October 22 Coalition to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation ( Also fighting is the Stolen Lives Project, which documents cases of killings by law enforcement nationwide. The second edition of the Stolen Lives book documents over 2,000 cases in the 1990s alone. They can be found online at

The wrath coming forth regarding this rally is in direct response to the fact that Newburgh’s dirty police laundry is now being broadcast throughout the nation. I commend the Lembhard family for their determination in making sure that this issue doesn’t go unnoticed. Juanita, Sissy, Arlene, Mark, Harry, and Omari need to be applauded for pulling this together. Do not allow yourselves to be separated by the game of divide and conquer, and please don’t believe what some of the City fathers are trying to whisper in your ears. Keep on fighting the good fight and remember who your real enemy is.

I find it very interesting that a previous city councilwoman, who had once herself experienced some dangerous behavior from some of our police, is now expressing such strong support for them. In fact, she once claimed to be so scared that she had, or was thinking about purchasing, a gun for her own protection. Wow! How quickly some forget.

I also find it interesting that the mayor came forth with her support of the police a few days before she departed from our city for about a month. The games that some people play!

To the Newburgh leaders that are now stepping forth making an appeal for unity to overcome violence, where have you been? Your silence in the midst of the storms plaguing our community is breeding nothing but discontent. Newburgh has been a leaderless community for many years. You have people in various positions claiming to be leaders but say nothing when it needs to be said. How sad!

What is going on now is very painful - it’s cancerous - but before any true healing can take place a serious surgery needs to be performed. We need to cut out the hatred and racism in this community, and throughout this nation for that matter. If not, we’ll only have ourselves to blame.

If the shoe was on the other foot here, and all of these unnecessary killings were being performed by African American police officers against ordinary white citizens, you would be hearing a very different reaction than what you’re hearing now. Wake up and let’s sit down together and begin to have some serious dialogue, hopefully coming up with a definite plan that will begin to eradicate this poison. Because if not, it’s only going to get worse.

How long do you think it’s going to be before it’s too late? Wake up! Wake up! Heaven help us all!  This is Lillie’s Point Of View!
3 / 5 (16 Votes)

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Reader Response
  • Rachel McCants
  • September 6th, 2012 Thank you Lillie Howard for showing your support and you words of encouragement to the family.

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