MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. - With the country at a crossroads following several fatal shooting incidents, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino joined dozens in Mount Vernon for a Unity Rally in Hartley Park.
Astorino was joined by Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas, members of the police force and local leaders on Tuesday morning, where he called on his constituents to come together and “remember what binds us together as Americans.”
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, Astorino stressed that while many are frustrated and frightened by recent fatal shootings in Baton Rouge, Minnesota and Dallas, it’s important to remain centered in an unsettled world.
“Some people want revenge, but revenge is not the answer. What we need is renewal, not revenge,” he said. “Renewal in our faith, friends, our communities and the country. That starts with honesty.”
According to Thomas, Mount Vernon will continue to implement President Barack Obama’s “21st Century Police Model,” which is designed to build trust, transparency and cohesion between the community and officers walking city streets.
“As a black man raising a young family, it’s hard to have conversations with my son, who is asking questions about what’s happening on the news. This is why we’re working so hard to invest in new initiatives,” Thomas said. “We want to change the conversation to create a safer environment not just physically, but mentally and spiritually.”
Following the latest attack in Dallas - where five police officers were killed and more were injured - Astorino said that police officers across Westchester would have access to cultural competency programs and crisis intervention training.
“Here in Westchester County, we’re blessed with some of the nation’s finest police officers. None of the departments are perfect, but our goal is to make them better everyday,” he added. “Justice, which is equal treatment for all under the law, is what we should constantly be seeking.
“The justice system is not without failures, and when it fails one of us, it fails all of us. There is no justice if there is not justice for all.”