By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine
Donovan Richards, Queens Borough President, told a group of media representatives that he was sorry about the tragedy that befell George Floyd. He said that was not able to fully take in the verdict from the case. It has been an emotional roller-coaster for him and the nation.
There has been over a century of ‘racism and lynchings. We look back to that history and the injustices that followed,’ according to Mr. Richards. The Borough President said while he was happy with the Floyd verdict, and the accountability, the image of the knee on the neck will last for a long time. The media event took place at the Helen Marshall Center, and the aim was to bring the community up to date about the George Floyd verdict.
Mr. Richards said that it was sad what happened to George Floyd and that justice was not served in its totality. There is still a long way to go. He referred to the case of Sean Bell and the long list of many black men that suffered at the hands of law enforcement. ‘We have witnessed injustice after injustice, we have felt devalued, and while the verdict was a step in the right direction, let us be reminded that there is more to be done. We need to see a budget that is reflective in underserved communities. We must remain vigilant. We need Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice and Policing Act,’ said Mr. Richards. He also called for an end to systemic racism in law enforcement.
District Attorney, Melinda Katz, said it was appropriate that the people of Queens County stand together and discuss what happened in Minnesota. She felt profound empathy for George Floyd and his family. The jury spoke clearly for justice, she said. It was her fervent hope that the verdict was a step for systemic change. It was important to understand the frustration of the communities in which trust has been betrayed. She pointed out that there are many good police officers that put their lives on the line and do what is right, and that should be encouraged.
Adrienne Adams, Councilmember for District 28, chairs the City Council Committee on Public Safety and also co-chair the Black and Latino Caucus. She said we are sending a message that officers who harm, injure, and kill with impunity will be held accountable. True justice, she said, would have been had if George Floyd were around to hug his family and friends. True justice would be if black and brown communities no longer fear interaction with law enforcement. We must push for systemic change, she said. George Floyd will not be forgotten. His memory is alive and well, and his name will inspire others. A step in the right direction is just but a step, but we must advocate and legislate for change, Councilwoman Adams concluded.
John Liu, State Senator, said that there was a range of emotions before the verdict was announced. He was elated at the verdict but it was sad, since a life was taken. He said that many of the cops are good people but there are some bad apples that infect others, and that is why accountability is important.
Assembly Member, Khaleel Anderson, said that the verdict had a profound impact on him. ‘Our community felt a sigh of relief. It meant that black lives are recognized. We must press on with legislative reforms and we must fight to eliminate racism,’ he said. Assembly Member, Jennifer Rajkumar, said that she cannot breathe because every day black Americans face discrimination and they are treated unequally. She echoed the call for more to be done. Assembly Member David Weprin said that it was important that we work together for justice, and noted that a diverse jury gave the verdict. Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said that he wanted to make sure that his District stand united with the rest of the community to root out racism.
Deputy Borough President Rhonda Binda stated that George Floyd should have been accorded the rights under the law. She assured the community that under the leadership of Donovan Richards, Borough Hall is fighting for life and liberty for all. The Borough President thanked all for their participation and there were nine minutes and twenty seconds of silence for George Floyd and his family.
Overall, the function was appropriate and to the point. The tone was solemn, as befitted the occasion. There is an air of optimism in Borough Hall.
The President, Donovan Richards, is a young man that listens. He follows in the tradition of Claire Schulman, Helen Marshall and Melinda Katz. The choice of Rhonda Binda as Deputy Borough President is an imaginative one as she will work to bring communities closer. It was refreshing to see other young elected officials, Jennifer Rajkumar and Khaleel Anderson, talk about their vision for a better community.
Councilwoman Adrienne Adams from District 28 was brilliant. She spoke from the heart. She was instrumental in getting the sign ‘Punjab Avenue’ approved at 101 Avenue in Richmond Hill. On Saturday May 29, 2021, the ‘Little Guyana’ sign will be installed in Liberty Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard, on June 27, 2021 the Pandit Ramlall Way will be installed at 133rd Street, and Liberty Avenue, both under the auspices of Councilwoman Adrienne Adams. These are truly historic events that will bring the community together.