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January 30th, 2013

Mayor Kennedy, what has happened since March?

Lillie Howard

On March 31, 2012 the headline in the Mid-Hudson News read "US Department of Justice in Newburgh following two deaths!" The article stated that the US Department of Justice and the State Division of Human Rights were both in Newburgh to advise city officials in the wake of two violent deaths. On March 7th, police shot and killed Michael Lembhard, 22, a Newburgh man who officers said came at them with a knife. On March 24th, a 26-year-old Newburgh man was shot and killed in the area of City Terrace and Broadway.

At the time, Mayor Judy Kennedy told, "several agencies have stepped up to help Newburgh. We have the federal government involved, we have the state government involved, we have county help here, people are pulling together to find solutions, not just for this incident, but for the broader base of issues we have here." Kennedy also said the issue of crime and violence must be addressed through law enforcement, education and job creation.

What has happened since that March 31, 2012 press release? Mayor Kennedy, would you please tell us what has been done since your March 31, 2012 press release? What advice and recommendations coming forth from the US Department of Justice, State Division of Human Rights, and county government have been embraced and implemented?

I find it quite interesting that nothing seems to have changed except for maybe a few new appointments to some of the city boards. More than likely this was done to quiet those who were once concerned about what was not being done to benefit the people.

I also find it interesting that a city whose elected officials are all democrat, of which three are African Americans, can be at such a standstill. Nothing has seriously changed but the faces, which is a very sad indictment.

Who’s really getting the benefits? The low income residents are not gaining anything from this, nor are the tax payers. Where are the jobs? Where are the programs that could seriously begin to address the drug problems and the gang problems that were cited as a major problem in our city, causing Newburgh to be in the condition that it’s in. Hopefully, the citizens of Newburgh will rise up and get actively involved to assure that positive changes will be implemented in this community, an effort that will prove beneficial to all of it citizens, not just a chosen few. Citizen silence to all of this means that they are in agreement with what is and what is not happening in the City of Newburgh. How and why is that possible?

To the above let me interject some words from our slain leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: "Any real change in the status quo depends on continued creative action to sharpen the conscience of the nation and establish a climate in which even the most recalcitrant elements are forced to admit that change is necessary."

Dr. King also said: "We could not be where we are today without the great rights of free speech, free press, freedom to demonstrate, petition and march to the seat of Government, even in Montgomery, Alabama, where redress of grievances may be brought." To that I say it’s time for the concerned citizens of Newburgh to rise up and start demonstrating - nonviolently - so that your elected officials realize you’re tired, fed up, and are not going to take their non-action anymore. Demand that they begin the process of turning Newburgh into a community that will be beneficial to all of its residents.

Dr. King also said, "The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new. For him, the greatest pain is the pain of a new idea. An elderly segregationist in the South is reported to have said, ‘I have come to see now that desegregation is inevitable. But I pray God that it will not take place until after I die.’ The soft-minded person always wants to freeze the moment and hold life in the gripping yoke of sameness." Wow!

It’s time for all of those in this community who are tired of things remaining the way that they are to get involved in a nonviolent way, demanding change that will be beneficial to all citizens of Newburgh.

To the churches I say stop being satisfied with faith-based monies, start demanding decent paying jobs so that the people can catch their own fish instead of having to stand in line for handouts. If not, you’ll only have yourselves to blame for what’s coming down the pike. Don’t you realize yet that poverty breeds crime, therefore poverty is the real crime that needs to be seriously addressed? Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!

Our elected officials need to start seriously addressing the poverty in our community and then that change, which is so badly needed for our city, will finally begin to happen. This is Lillie’s Point of View!

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