NEWBURGH – Following two hours of comments from members of the public concerning whether the Newburgh City Council should censure Councilman Omari Shakur for a vulgar-filled tirade to city police officers, a council majority voted to censure the first-term lawmaker.
Most of the 26 people who spoke, said Shakur was disrespectful to the city he serves and should be called on the carpet.
Shakur, meanwhile, criticized the large turnout of people, most of whom condemned his actions on the February video. “Where are these people when our children are dying? Where are these people when our community is suffering? Why don’t these people come to the meeting and help us and help us fix things, but people want to come here and condemn a black man, but you don’t want to come here a fix a community,” Shakur said. “And that’s what’s wrong this, the whole thing right now, because everyone wants to come here and condemn Omari, but when it’s time to vote to fix our city, I don’t see none of you,” he said in a raised voice.
Mayor Torrance Harvey said he had hoped any such censure vote would come after an independent investigation into the incident is completed.
Councilwoman Karen Mejia also had hoped any action should come following an investigation. She abstained from voting for or against the resolution. Shakur voted against the censure, but all other members voted to approve the action.
Harvey and city attorney Michelle Kelson said the city charter does not allow any council action beyond censure.
Harvey said it is within the purview of the governor to remove an elected official from office.