Official Statements

Elected and school officials react to protests

Garrison Board of Education

The murders of so many innocent black men and women—culminating in the dreadful asphyxiation of George Floyd by an officer of the law — have affected us deeply both as individuals and as trustees of the Garrison Board of Education.

We’re sure that many of you have similar feelings. We know this much: if our country is to realize its promise of liberty and justice for all, communities across America must do more than we’ve done so far.

As a board, we know Garrison is not a racially diverse community, nor are we a diverse board. Still, as a board, we are committed to ensuring the safety of our students of color and their families and caregivers. We are committed to ensuring our staff and administrators are supported through professional development opportunities and a safe working environment. We are committed to working with our community to create a culture of equity, inclusion, tolerance, anti-racism and recognition of privilege.

Last year, the Board of Education of the Garrison Union Free School District adopted a resolution that emphasizes our strong commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. You can find that resolution here September 2019 resolution.  It lays out our values as a district in providing a community free of bigotry and prejudice.

With these values in mind, we will be spending time in school board meetings considering how the Garrison school district can do a better job preparing our students to help build an America where racial equality is the norm, not merely an aspiration. This work is both important and urgent. We welcome your thoughts and your collaboration.

Superintendent Philip Benante, Haldane Central School District
The suffocation of George Floyd is just one of several recent acts that have illustrated the continued injustice that African Americans face in our country. These explicit acts of racism only partially reveal the deeply embedded, systemic forces of racism that exist in many of our institutions.

We are not a racially diverse community. Some may take that fact and see the issues portrayed in the news as separate from us. I suggest that our lack of diversity is the very reason why we have an even greater responsibility to examine racism in our country, and to actively seek out and dismantle the policies and practices that perpetuate racism in our communities. Not only do we have this responsibility to our black students and their families, but also to the collective humanity of which we are all a part.

Our public schools play an important role in helping our children become forces of justice in our society. For Haldane, this means teaching our students what racism is in all its forms, what it means to be an anti-racist, and how to disrupt and dismantle systems which perpetuate inequity in our communities and institutions. Our faculty and staff remain committed to this work.

Sandy Galef, New York State Assembly (Philipstown)
This weekend we saw protesters all across the country stand together in solidarity against police brutality. I stand with my fellow Americans who took to the streets in peaceful protest to condemn the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other black Americans who have been taken from us too soon…. Racism, in the form of police brutality, disproportionate health outcomes and economic inequality, cannot and will not persist.

Mayor Lee Kyriacou, Beacon
I can speak for the entire council and city when I say that we are shocked at the precipitating death of Mr. Floyd, and fully supportive of resulting peaceful protest. We understand the pain and desire for change that are motivating citizens of all walks of life to express themselves. I thank the community for speaking up in the non-violent tradition of Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, and I thank the police chief and department for honoring and protecting our community to do so.

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney
Listen up: Our police and the peaceful protestors agree. We need real change…. I am calling for a thorough, independent investigation into the death of George Floyd. Those responsible must be held accountable under the full extent of the law. Justice must be served.

Marc Molinaro, Dutchess County Executive
I can never know the fear and anguish people of color face every day, going about their daily lives — the accusatory glares, the baseless presumption of wrongdoing — wondering if today will be the day they face outright harassment, physical intimidation or worse, based purely on the prejudice of others. I will, however, defend the rights of anyone to peacefully gather and voice their opinions…. Make no mistake: George Floyd was murdered at the hands of an officer who swore to uphold the law…. The brave men and women of law enforcement deserve our respect, and the overwhelming majority have earned it. The actions of the four Minneapolis officers and any others who act recklessly and cruelly put at risk the countless conscientious officers who protect and serve with professionalism and courage every day, throughout our county and our country.

MaryEllen Odell, Putnam County Executive
America has a long tradition of peaceful demonstrations, and we welcome such protests. We must stand up for justice and against discrimination of any kind, but we can never condone violence. We should seize on the energy of this moment and work together to create meaningful, lasting change.

Sue Serino, New York State Senate
At a candlelight vigil in the City of Poughkeepsie, our community stood united for peace. The senseless act that took the life of George Floyd was a gross miscarriage of justice that has torn our country apart during a time already marred by enormous human suffering. Now, more than ever, we must come together to send a strong message that racism, hate and violence have no place here in our community.

Those involved in George Floyd’s death pose a threat to all those who have taken the oath to serve and protect. We cannot allow their actions to tarnish the work of the countless good officers here in our community and beyond who work tirelessly every day to make connections, build bridges and keep our communities safe.

Violence cannot be met with more violence. We must work to heal our communities, not hurt them with violent riots. We must do all we can to bring peace to our communities, to ensure that the voices of those who have been left out for far too long are heard loud and clear, and work to move forward together.


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