WXXI News: Panel discussion tries to answer questions about Black Lives Matter movement


A panel being held Sunday afternoon in Rochester had a goal of trying clear up any misunderstandings about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Speakers included the Pastor of Salem United Church of Christ Reverend Julius Jackson, Jr, Monroe County legislator and mayoral candidate James Sheppard and the President of the Interfaith IMPACT for New York State Richard Gilbert.

The main focus of the discussion, Gilbert said, was to try  and answer questions about the Black Lives Matter movement and what its goals are; as well as how it relates to issues in the prison system today.

"It’s how the two relate. Because our prison system is very much based on racism. We hope to demonstrate that and indicate ways that people can work against the racism."

Panelists also discussed the school to prison pipeline, minimizing the use of solitary confinement, and raising the age of criminal liability in New York State from 16 to 18 years old.

Gilbert said organizers wanted to offer a number of different perspectives on the movement and what it means for racism in Rochester and in New York State.

"We are so divided in our country right now that we need every possible means to bring us back together again and this is one way to do it."

He hoped the event would reach people who were curious, and ready to initiate change in our community.

"We've for too long been apathetic about the racism that surrounds us every day. So we'd like people to feel that they are empowered to take action to begin to end it."

Interfaith IMPACT of New York State is an organization that works on state legislation through progressive religious advocacy.

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