Maloney On Community Listening Session

POUGHKEEPSIE – Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) released the following statement in response to last week’s evening’s listening session hosted by Dutchess County focused on race and community relations:

“Last night, I joined former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and others in a community conversation on race hosted by Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro. The point of the virtual gathering was to provide an unscripted forum for community members to share experiences and voice grievances on issues of racial justice in Dutchess County. That’s exactly what happened.

“Of particular concern to many participants were the circumstances surrounding the March 2019 arrest of Jamelia Barnett and Julissa Dawkins by police officers in the City of Poughkeepsie. Melissa Johnson, their mother, spoke powerfully about her frustrations with the County and how disappointed she was that I had not been involved. She noted that I too have African American daughters and would not want them treated this way.

“After reviewing the situation, it is clear to me that she is right. This is a case that I have not followed closely enough, nor have I used my position to advocate on behalf of her family. For that, I owe Melissa and her daughters an apology.

“At a minimum, Dutchess County should immediately drop the charges against Jamelia Barnett and Julissa Dawkins and demand accountability for what this family has experienced. While I have no formal authority in this area, I do have a voice. So, I am communicating directly with the County Executive and Mayor to achieve this goal.

“I hope acknowledging my own shortcomings on this particular case can be part of a larger soul searching by all of us in positions of authority on ways we have fallen short in advocating for our vulnerable neighbors. My office remains committed to issues of racial justice. Going forward, we will work even harder at being a better ally to those who most need our help.”

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