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Staten Island city council candidate canvasses the black community on eve of Independence Day

Staten Island City Council candidate, Kelvin Richards does the black power sign while canvassing in Park Hill. Photo by, Alpha Kamara

Kelvin Richards, one of the Democratic party candidates running for Council District 49 in Staten Island, told Black residents yesterday that the meaning of independence is very different for Black and white americans.

“If you are white, you enjoy freedom, rights and all the privileges that come with it, Richards said to a group of young people as he canvassed for votes in the neighborhood. “But if you are Black, you have to struggle daily to gain your freedom, rights and justice in this country. The current protests across are a testimony that blacks in the US are still not free,” he said. 

Richards is one of nine candidates running for District 49. 

Richards moved to Staten Island over 20 years ago after graduating from high school in Africa. His father is Liberian and his mother is Ghanaian.  As a child he spent time in a refugee camp in Ghana. He later studied law and has been a public defender attorney for almost a decade in the borough 

Richards said, since declaring his intention to run for office, he has been a  victim of a hate crime.

Through his public defender job he has seen and heard first hand how police have been unfairly treating African Americans in Staten Island. 

“There is a relationship between low education and crime,” he said. “Most of the crimes committed like drugs consumption, gang violence, drunk driving are committed more by high school dropouts. This means, the more educated a Black man is, the less likely for him or her to commit these crimes in the community.”

As he knocked on doors, searching for votes, Richards told African American and African residents that over policing is impacting negatively the community.

“Due to the over policing of black communities, cops will see more crimes in those communities than in the white majority neighborhoods whose population is more than the blacks,” he said. “That’s why my agenda is to reform the criminal justice system and push for the rights of minorities in decision making processes.”

In a 2019 Center survey conducted by Pew research center,  84% of Black adults said they believe that they are treated less fairly.

Richards said African Americans  are also disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

“Blacks are frontline workers more than other races,” he said.”They are the less privileged and those suffering from poverty and unemployment than all others.”

Richards urged the community to think critically about the next election as the fate of Black America is at stake.

“We can protest from January to December, but if we don’t vote for the right people in the election, our suffering will stay the same,” he said.  

Voter Lassanah Gray, said that Staten Island needs a selfless representative that will be able to deliver the high expectations of  the borough’s African Americans. 

He said he is supporting Richards because of his work in the community defending poor black people in conflict with the law.