Facebook post prompts mayor to pull support from Black History Month Essay Contest


POUGHKEEPSIE – Mayor John Tkazyik
Thursday distanced himself from the annual Poughkeepsie High School Black
History Month Essay Contest after a flyer was posted on Facebook stating
that “the killings of Eric Garner and Michael Brown vividly exemplify
that police brutality and violence is still an endemic part of this country.”

That was written by City Alderman Randall Johnson II, who said the mayor
was “overreacting a bit and is paranoid.” Johnson said Tkazyik
“is not trying to be part of the solution to revise and fine tune
it, but just to criticize and say what is wrong with something doesn’t
help improve it.”

The topic of the student essay, Johnson’s notice stated, was, “As
youth in an urban community, what are your thoughts about police brutality,
how has it affected you, and what can we do as a society to prevent police
brutality in the future?”

The flyer said the event is organized and hosted by Councilman Johnson
with “special thanks” to the Poughkeepsie mayor’s office,
the city school district and Principal Phee Simpson.

Tkazyik said while is has been “extremely supportive” of the
essay contest in the past, he said he was not aware of the comments posted
on the Facebook flyer and he did not approve of them. He said he “adamantly
refuses to support or sign his name to the topic that may divide the public
and the police.”

The mayor said he will issue an executive order prohibiting the use of
the “Office of the Mayor” and the city seal without prior
written approval of the city administrator.

Johnson said he is rephrasing the essay topic “to make it more inclusive
(and) promote positivity and wholesomeness and togetherness.” Johnson
said it is a topic that effects urban communities and dates back to the
civil rights movement, but “it is time to have an open dialogue
and foster preventative measures in order to ensure a better relationship
and bridge the gap between the youth and law enforcement.”


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