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Tuesday 29 September 2020
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Local Social Justice Group Says, “Joe…You Gotta Go!”

By Tyronda James
tyrondajames@minorityreporter.net 

Community Justice Initiative’s Cherriese Marie gives a speech.
Photo provided by Craig Carson, CJI Villager.

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”

Malcolm X

These words quoted, July 31, by Cherriese Marie of the Community Justice Initiative, who among many more stood in solidarity with Monroe County Legislator, Sabrina LaMar, at Monroe County Democratic Committee, 1150 University Avenue. 

These words quoted, July 31, by Cherriese Marie of the Community Justice Initiative, who among many more stood in solidarity with Monroe County Legislator, Sabrina LaMar, at Monroe County Democratic Committee, 1150 University Avenue. 

LaMar, a program coordinator for Rochester Institute of Technology’s Community Engagement to Reduce Victimization said Rep. Joe Morelle contacted RIT to “silence” her after she spoke on gun violence on a Facebook post in April. LaMar’s work as a program coordinator for CERV, strives to end gun violence.

CJI said they stand with Sabrina LaMar.

“The Black Community stands in solidarity with Sabrina LaMar. Community Justice Initiative stands in Solidarity with Sabrina LaMar. We will not stand for White Male Patriarchy. We will not stand for White Male Privilege politics. We will not stand for White Male Hegemony. Joe Morelle has exhibited all three. We, the people, have a message for you, Joe!  Joe…You Gotta Go,” said CJI.

“Joe Morelle’s conduct exhibits unethical behavior that exhibits him and his administration do not value Black Women and Black Families. This must be illuminated. He must be held accountable. Ms. LaMar need not stand alone.”

The following demands from CJI were provided by Antonia Wynter at the conference: 

  1. Retract your statements from this week which dodge accountability. 
  2. Apologize via press conference to Sabrina LaMar, her family and the black community. 
  3. Reveal all communications both written or any verbal contact with RIT’s CERV office. 
  4. Admit the intentions behind communicating with Deborah Stendardi via text. 
  5. Joe Morelle’s Immediate Resignation. 

On April 29, LaMar’s supervisor told her Morelle called administration at RIT and “attempted to use his position to terminate my employment.”

A statement from LaMar regarding the “malicious and egregious act”: 

“A member may not with the intent to influence an employment decision or employment practice of any private entity.  The member cannot take or withhold, or offer or threaten to take or withhold, an official act.  The member cannot influence, or offer or threaten to influence, the official act of another,” LaMar said.

CJI said Morelle has defaulted on the promise he provided when elected and has turned his back on the ethics he was elected to protect.

“With this coming to the light, what other ethical or moral atrocities are associated with Joe Morelle’s name? One may never know. What we do know … is … his conduct was Racist, Sexist, Egotist, Thoughtless, Negligent, Unethical and the list goes on … what you all must know is … Joe, you gotta go!” 

In a statement, Morelle said when contacting RIT regarding LaMar, his intention was solely to learn whether her appearance in a political advertisement was truly part of her official job duties at the university.

“My intention was never to threaten her employment or silence Ms. LaMar,” said Morelle.

Morelle also said he remains committed to listening to the voices, the stories, and experiences of Black Americans – and learning from them. “As we move forward, I will continue listening, learning, and working to be the representative this community deserves. Every day, I am working to be a partner and ally of the Black community. However, I understand that I need to continue learning and working to be more aware of the way my privilege can influence my actions and their impact on others.”

As the words, “Joe…You gotta go” continued to echo throughout the event from supporters, “Do our tax dollars support this behavior?” they questioned.  

“We apologize for keeping this man in this position. This man is intoxicated with the power he holds.”

LaMar said it’s important for her to be the voice of the voiceless!

“First he needs to hold himself accountable and resigning would be a step towards that. And then outline some, steps that he would like to take to move forward,” said LaMar.

“But, until he at least resigns and acknowledges what he did was wrong. We’re not gonna rest.”

Addendum:

Educator and Anti-racist Advocate, Howard Eagle speaks to many in support of Monroe County Legislator Sabrina LaMar.

Local Faith leaders in support of Monroe County Legislator Sabrina LaMar met her and other supporters Wednesday, August 6 at Central Church of Christ located at 101 S. Plymouth Avenue.  The group called on Rep. Joe Morelle, extending an invitation for him to explain himself.  

Supporters also included Monroe County Legislators Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, Vince Felder, and Calvin Lee Jr. 

However, Morelle did not show that evening.  

Howard J. Eagle, anti-racist advocate and educator said there a promise made to the community in the event Morelle did not show up. 

“Remember on Monday when we had the press, we promised the community something. We did. We said we’d invite Joe here and if he doesn’t come, we’re going to him. That’s what we told the community. Some of us are going tonight,” Eagle said.

“First of all,  Joe Morelle is a representative of one of the most powerful governmental bodies in the world. The US Congress is one of the most powerful governmental bodies in the world. And so he knows when he makes statements. It matters. He knows that. When he sends an email or makes a phone call. It matters.”

One supporter asked if Morelle replied to the invitation and questioned whether he was in the town of Rochester, to which LaMar responded, “Absolutely!”

“Over the last 24 hours, I’ve had four people call me to ask if they could mediate the situation between Mr. Morelle and myself, said LaMar. 

“Instead of answering the call to come here, he’d rather try to do it behind closed doors.”

We’re going to let him know that we don’t appreciate what him and his father tried to do to this black woman. That’s what we’re gonna do,” said Eagle.

Because you have an obligation to represent us. We put you there. You wouldn’t be sitting there without the black vote. So you don’t take us lightly. You don’t abuse our women.”

The group plans to schedule additional meetings. A gathering is scheduled Saturday, August 8 at 5:30 p.m. at Central Church of Christ.