The following is excerpted from the mayor’s comments at the Scarsdale Board of Trustees meeting June 9.

Dear Scarsdale Community,

On May 25, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was tragically killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis. This killing, along with the series of senseless murders of black people by white police officers nationwide is unconscionable. It is also unconscionable that racism continues to plague our nation.

Four Scarsdale High School graduates from the class of 2016 organized a vigil for George Floyd this past Sunday evening in Chase Park. The vigil was attended by hundreds of our friends and neighbors, as well as the mayor of Mount Vernon and a number of her constituents. All but two of the speakers were black. This is not what we are accustomed to in Scarsdale — and that is exactly the point. We consider ourselves a community that highly values justice, both social justice and legal justice. We prize fairness and equity, and we staunchly denounce racism in all of its forms. While our aspirations are in the right place, it became clear to me on Sunday that we have work to do.

Among the most powerful and courageous speakers were five young black women who are current or former students in Scarsdale schools. They each recounted stories of growing up in Scarsdale. Stories of micro-aggressions, underlying racism and a lack of black teachers to serve as role models and to teach other teachers how to treat topics of black history with sensitivity and understanding. I was deeply moved by the stories of these young women, and I am ashamed that these acts continue to occur today in 2020 in Scarsdale. After the vigil, I told the five young women that I heard them and I am deeply sorry that these things happened to them here in Scarsdale.

This vigil was a wakeup call for me and for many others who attended the event. I am forming a group comprised of residents, representatives from the School District, local clergy, representatives from the village staff and the Board of Trustees and other stakeholders. The mission of this group will be to challenge us, to challenge our way of doing things, our way of thinking and our approach to one another. What we heard on Sunday evening was not the Scarsdale we want to be. Frankly, it is not the community I thought that we were. We are better than this, much better than this; and, we cannot get to that better place soon enough.

Change is difficult, but it is clearly important for us to take a hard look in the mirror and start to make necessary changes. Change is also required beyond our Village borders. One of the most effective ways that we may have our voices heard is to exercise our right to vote.

On June 23, we have a primary election and on Sept. 15 we have a Scarsdale Village election. Please vote. Please vote every time you have the opportunity to have your voice heard in the management of our village, county, state or nation.

MARC SAMWICK

Mayor, Village of Scarsdale

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