GRAWA’s Racial Justice Committee made a last-minute change of venue on Tuesday, November 22 to attend Senator Kristen Gillibrand’s press conference at Rochester City Hall. Senator Gillibrand called for unity in the face of the growing incidence of hate crimes perpetrated in the Greater Rochester community and around the country since the presidential election.
While a number of community leaders, particularly in the faith community, spoke eloquently about our need to stand together against prejudice and fear, it was the Senator’s emotional plea for acceptance and understanding that moved all those in attendance. With a shaking voice and clearly holding back tears, Senator Gillibrand described some of the disturbing post-election occurrences of anti-Semitism, homophobia, and racism throughout Rochester and the state.
In her prepared remarks, she said, “It is disgraceful that anyone in our community would turn on their own neighbors and classmates in this way. Every New Yorker has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and no one should have to endure intimidation and bigotry.” She iterated her belief that the citizens of New York do not abide by such hatred and that we can show the rest of the nation how working together, united through our differences, makes us a stronger people. At a time when many in our community are frightened by these recent attacks, her message of inclusion and community was an uplifting moment for our community.