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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Top Stories > General

Human rights panel discusses police relations

Commission hosted by SUNY Sullivan

Nov 14, 2017

By Patricio Robayo - staff writer

By: Patricio Robayo | Democrat
A panel discussion was held at SUNY Sullivan on the current state of human rights, from left, Dr. Keith Pomakoy, Lorraine Lopez-Janove, Sandy Oxford, Judy Balaban and Marvin Rappaport.
LOCH SHELDRAKE — If you have ever felt discriminated against in everyday life there are services and people you can talk to right here in Sullivan County. A panel was assembled to discuss human, civil, voting and worker's rights, not only what they mean globally but how these issues affect our local community.
The panel on The State of Human Rights was held at SUNY Sullivan's Student Union last week. Dr. Keith Pomakoy, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at SUNY Sullivan, was on hand to introduce the panel, which included Sandy Oxford, President of the NAACP of Sullivan County; Judy Balaban, Chair of the Human Rights Commission of Sullivan County and Marvin Rappaport, Former Chief of Staff of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and moderated by Lorraine Lopez-Janove, Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Sullivan.
“Immigrant rights are human rights, LGBTQ rights are human rights, voting rights are human rights, workers rights are human rights,” Rappaport said.
“Everyone of us and 99 percent of America, their parents or grandparents or great grandparents, came from somewhere else. America is a mosaic of many colors. It's not appropriate for someone to say ‘I was here longer than you or you don't belong here.' ‘Well, where did you come from?'... We all came from somewhere else,” Rappaport added.
One of the topics discussed was how police treatment of minorities has become a nationwide topic and have resulted in protest such as NFL players taking a knee during national anthem.
“About a year ago we brought together law enforcement and community members to try to strengthen that relationship,” said Balaban. “We want to be proactive before we have more issues in this county than we've had. The Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney, Chiefs of Police in Liberty, Monticello and Fallsburg and the Public Defender's office came together to meet with the community.”
Community and police relations is one of the many initiatives that are currently in place throughout the county being spearheaded by the Human Right Commission.
It's their goal to not only create a dialogue with the community through public forums like the one at SUNY Sullivan, but also reach out at county fairs and through discussion groups that would meet regularly with members of the community to address any of their concerns.
The panel discussed how it is not only important to recognize instances of human rights abuse, but also how to de-escalate them without further animosity or violence.
“We do need to stand up and we do need to inject ourselves into situations to help the last in line, to help someone who is being scapegoated,” said Oxford. “But we need to know how to help. We need to know how to step in and be part of the transformative shift that will de-escalate a violent situation.”
Lopez-Janove who moderated the panel was pleased with the discussions. She hoped more of the community were in attendance, but remains positive that this is only the beginning of dialogue in Sullivan County. Lopez-Janove has reached out more to high school and college students to discuss the issues that they face on a daily basis.

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