NEW CITY, N.Y. -- More than 30 members of the Black Lives Matter movement protested Monday, July 18 in front of the Rockland County Sheriff's Office in New City.
According to Rockland County Sheriff's Department Chief William Barbera, the rally was peaceful and no problems cropped up during the event that was held to protest the recent killings of black men by police. The group also presented a list of demands the organization would like the Sheriff's Office to adopt.
The nationwide organization, with a Rockland/Orange County group, has been protesting at different locations across the county in an effort to get their message across.
Vanessa Green, cofounder of the Rockland/Orange Chapter, said the group has a list of demands for the Sheriff's Office but did not present them directly to the department, instead choosing to read them aloud during the rally.
The demands, which can be found on their Facebook page include:
- WE DEMAND more Black Officers from the Community as PATROL officers!
- WE DEMAND more diversity higher ranking positions of Law Enforcement!
- WE DEMAND an end to Stop N Frisk and Racial Profiling by police in Rockland County!
- WE DEMAND an end to the intimidation of Black and Brown immigrant communities! Many will not speak out due to fear of deportation.
- WE DEMAND all police cars be equipped with dashboard cameras and that each officer wear body cameras.
In response to the demands, Barbera said the department would be thrilled to hire as many black officers as possible if they would just take the test to become an officer.
"I spend a lot of time recruiting and visiting colleges, high schools and malls to try and encourage black youths to join the department," he said. "It's the same with promotions, I just don't have enough officers of color to hold the positions."
Barbera also said the Sheriff's Office does not use stop and frisk, or racial profiling, not only because they are against the law, but because it's not needed in the community.
"It's just not happening. I can't remember the last time this method was used," Barbera said."We have a good relationship will all of the local black pastors and aren't hearing these same kinds of problems existing."
Green disagrees and said that racial profiling does take place.
"We will feel they have addressed our demands when the department has more black and other ethnic groups as officers, and the racial profiling has stopped."
The Sheriff's Office does not have a community policing unit due to a lack of officers but they do have one community officer.
As for the demand for dashboard and body cameras, Barbera said it is simply a matter of money and time.
"We would love to be able to have access to those types of materials but first you have to be able to pay thousands of dollars for them, and you need to have someone to download and manage the content."
Green said there was no tension with the police during the rally, who provided a space for them to gather.
"I'm not saying they were there to protect us, but there was not any problems," she added.
Black Lives Matter will hold another rally at 7 p.m. Friday, July 22 at the Clarkstown Police Department, 20 Maple Ave.
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