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Human Rights Commission planning strategy for future

Armed with a full roster, Rye’s local Human Rights Commission is now aiming to get started on several initiatives by the end of summer.

On July 12, Mayor Joe Sack, a Republican, appointed six residents to the committee after officially resurrecting it back in January.

Emily Dorin, Kelly Grayer, Judith Secon, Robert Marrow, Alison Relyea and Adrienne Mecca, who is the wife of Councilman Richard Mecca, a Republican, will join Democratic Councilwoman Danielle Tagger-Epstein, the committee chairwoman, and Marion Anderson, who has been a commissioner since the committee was re-established.

The Rye Human Rights Commission, which is headed by Councilwoman Danielle Tagger-Epstein, is aiming to start several initiatives by the end of summer, after Mayor Joe Sack appointed six new members to the committee on July 12. File photo

“I’m very excited about having people to work with in an official capacity,” Tagger-Epstein said. “It’s going to take some time to get started since we’re starting from scratch, but we’ll see what the next few months brings.”

The first initiative the commission will move forward on involves establishing a committee website, which Tagger-Epstein said is crucial in such a technologically driven era. “The idea is to answer the call for those who are in need and for those who would like to report a [discrimination] complaint either anonymously or on the record,” she said.

In addition to that, the councilwoman said the Human Rights Commission will also seek to collaborate with city Public Safety Commissioner Michael Corcoran for education initiatives throughout the city.

Most recently, the two commission members and the public safety commissioner collaborated on a proposal to establish a policy on immigration enforcement for the city Police Department. The policy was approved unanimously by the Rye City Council on July 12.

Relyea told the Review the commission will also be discussing an event for Unity Day, a signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month that has been recognized in the U.S. since 2011.

“This is a really good time to be focusing on human rights, especially at the local level,” she said. “The commission will serve to protect and foster the diversity we have in our community.”

The committee was established earlier this year after a 13-year hiatus, in which Rye relied solely on the much broader county-centric commission.

Over the last two decades, a number of municipalities in Westchester County have eliminated their local human rights commissions to support the county’s committee.

However, that changed in Rye after a perceived uptick in racially motivated vandalism throughout the county, including instances of anti-Semitism involving graffiti and swastikas bring drawn in public places.

Before reviving the local city commission, its last meeting took place in 2004. According to minutes of that meeting, commissioners spoke about diversity, affordable housing and racism in television programming.

Sack and Corcoran could not be reached for comment, as of press time.

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