USA - Newburgh, NY council censures councillor accused of antisemitism

Newburgh, NY
- The Newburgh City Council voted unanimously to censure Councilman-at-Large Omari Shakur on Monday night after making what some council members described as "antisemitic" remarks.

The incident occurred Oct. 20 over a construction site issue where Shakur questioned a landlord about obtaining a permit for work going on at 156 Broadway, according to the resolution and an account of the incident Shakur gave on Monday.

Shakur, who voted in favor of censuring himself, apologized multiple times during the council meeting for his words.

"As I told Councilman (Anthony) Grice, when those words came out of my mouth, I regretted them," Shakur said. "As a child and an activist of the 60s and 70s, the Jewish community has been allied with the Black community for the longest."
It is the second time the council has voted to censure Shakur.

At Monday's meeting, Shakur said that last week's situation unfolded after he was observing a construction site at Broadway and South Miller Street and saw workers without masks or gloves taking down part of an old building.

"It was a safety issue," he said. "It wasn't blocked off, nothing."

The situation escalated when Shakur approached the landlord about a permit for the work, and the landlord told the councilman to leave the site, according to Shakur's account of the incident at Monday's meeting.

Words were exchanged at that point and Shakur uttered some antisemitic remarks.

"There were a lot of issues: safety issues, health issues, but the only issue anyone was worried about was that Councilman Shakur cursed," Shakur said.

He apologized for letting his frustration about code enforcement get the best of him.

Each council member said they understood why Shakur was upset, but that antisemitic behavior would not be tolerated.

"Notwithstanding, this is strictly about the antisemtic remarks," said Councilwoman Karen Mejia. "This is a community that does not tolerate that, regardless of who says it."

Mayor Torrance Harvey said a brief video of the incident that circulated on social media did not capture the entire situation.

"There were some code violations that were present and city code was not followed," Harvey said. "But I'm agreeing with my colleagues that antisemitic rhetoric, language, any type of racial slurs and/or inappropriate language and vulgarity is not professional, appropriate or indicative of what we are as a council or elected officials."