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Cuomo, on MLK day, urges NY to continue crusade for equal rights

Staff Reports Posted 16 January 2017 at 1:29 pm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released a statement today on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, urging the state to press for equal rights and reform the criminal justice system.

Here is the governor’s statement:

“Today, we honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., celebrate his life, and reflect on his unrelenting commitment to justice for all. As a result of Dr. King’s leadership, we have achieved much progress in creating a fairer, more just state and nation. Yet there is still much more work to be done. Now more than ever, it is incumbent upon us to continue Dr. King’s crusade for equal rights.

“We still have a judicial system that is supposed to be blind, but that all too often finds the scales of justice tipped by resources or race. Together, we must take concrete steps to repair our broken criminal justice system and ensure we are all treated equally under the law.

“As part of our ‘New York Promise’ agenda, I will be advancing a comprehensive reform package to fix New York’s bail system, ensure a speedy trial, protect the integrity of investigations and raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“In the words of Dr. King, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,’ and we must do everything in our power to remedy injustice here in New York and lead the nation forward toward a brighter, stronger, more united future.”

President-elect Donald Trump issued this statement on Twitter:

“Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!”

President Obama didn’t issue a statement today, but last Thursday he designated national monuments to honor Civil Rights history.

The new monuments are the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, Freedom Riders National Monument and Reconstruction Era National Monument.

• Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument: The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument will protect the historic A.G. Gaston Motel in Birmingham, Alabama, which served at one point as the headquarters for the civil rights campaign led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that helped lead to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  The monument will also tell the stories associated with other nearby Birmingham historic sites, including the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church– which was the site of a bombing in 1963; and Kelly Ingram Park, where Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner Bull Connor turned hoses and dogs on young civil rights protesters.

• Freedom Riders National Monument: The Freedom Riders National Monument is located in Anniston, Alabama and contains two sites that help underscore the Freedom Riders’ importance to the civil rights movement.  The monument includes the Greyhound Bus Station where a racially integrated bus of Freedom Riders attempting to test desegregation was attacked in the spring of 1961, and the site where the same bus was firebombed and burned some minutes later.

• Reconstruction Era National Monument: Located in coastal South Carolina, the new Reconstruction Era National Monument encompasses four sites throughout Beaufort County that tell the vibrant story of the robust community developed by freed former African American slaves in the Reconstruction Era South.  This designation includes the Brick Baptist Church and Darrah Hall at the existing Penn Center on St. Helena Island as well as the Old Firehouse in downtown Beaufort and parts of Camp Saxton in Port Royal where the Emancipation Proclamation was read on New Year’s Day in 1863. These sites establish the first unit of the National Park System focused on telling the story of Reconstruction.

Protection for these sites is strongly supported by the local communities, elected officials, and a wide variety of stakeholders including civil rights organizations, environmental justice groups and historic preservation groups. Each designation was also supported by legislation introduced by members of the Alabama and South Carolina delegations.

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