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Ongoing Protest in Nyack Demands Answers from Police in Death of Sean Harris (and Other Local Stories)

This week in the Villages we present an exclusive documentary short detailing the growing chorus calling for answers from Clarkstown police in the confounding case of 19-year-old Sean Harris, who died inexplicably after a lengthy standoff with police more than a month ago, Plus, other local news, quotes and videos of the week, a weather prediction, a Covid update, upcoming meetings and much more. Thanks for being here!

Lack of Information Leads to An Ongoing Demand for Answers

Sean Harris, 19, died under suspicious circumstances after a long standoff with police that started with an argument with his mom. (Photo from Hanneman Funeral Home)

The fact is we still don’t know what happened to Sean Harris, the 19-year-old Central Nyack community college student who died after an argument with his mother somehow escalated, following a brief visit by social workers, into tense hours-long standoff with a small army of police.

With so many questions still unanswered about the circumstances and build up to Sean Harris’ death and little information forthcoming from police, town or state officials, Harris’ family and concerned relatives, friends and other community groups joined together last Thursday, June 29, to form an ongoing protest.

According to organizers for Voices of Rockland — an activist group that has linked Harris’ death to racism within Rockland law enforcement and their approach to cases, especially where mental health concerns are an issue — there will be protests at the Hezekiah Square in downtown Nyack until the community receives adequate answers.

“We are here to represent our need for safe and supportive responses to mental health crises in our communities,” it said on a recent Instagram post, evidence of their staying power.

Our partners at Truth 2 Power were on hand to document the rally last Thursday. Watch below. But first, a little context.

Harris died on May 30 under alarmingly suspicious and befuddling circumstances that led to not only a required preliminary investigation from the Attorney General’s office and a vague statement from Clarkstown police, but several unanswered questions that seemingly could (and should) have been provided by authorities.

At this point, Clarkstown police, town lawyers and officials at the Attorney General’s office have kept a tight lid on details about the investigation into this case, citing an “ongoing investigation.”

This is what we still want to know:

  • Why were police called to the scene initially, given the discrepancy between Harris’ mother’s story and what police said they were told by social workers?
  • Why did police feel it was necessary to fire “less lethal munitions” at Harris, who was inside of his own home, posing no immediate threat to anyone, at the time police fired?
  • What effect, physically and psychologically, did getting hit with the munition have on Harris?
  • Why don’t we have a cause of death or an official report from the medical examiner’s office, almost a month after Harris’ death? (You would think police would be eager to release this information because it would corroborate their story. Unless it doesn’t.)

Read Lohud reporter Nancy Cutler’s in-depth piece on Harris and his mother’s warranted suspicions about her son’s death here.

We will continue to search for answers and continue to follow up with the attorney general’s office and Clarkstown police.

Stay tuned and be in touch …

In other relevant news:

Meet your Nyack Village Board Trustees

Ladies and gentlemen, your newest Nyack Village Board Trustee, Joe Carlin and Nathalie Riobe-Taylor, who emerged from a five-candidate field in the Democratic primary, essentially the de facto general election (due to a lack of Republican candidates).

Quotes of the week: Read This Summer!

Videos of the week:

Too good for us, Ron?

ICYM NNV’s weekly features: Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”; Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; and our coverage in our last edition of “The Villages”; Our latest Nyack Schools Report. If you haven’t read it yet, please check our vision for the future of Nyack News & Views and how you can help build our coverage and capacity.

Weather prediction (through July 9)

The big question is will it clear up by Tuesday night and make way for 4th of July fireworks. It will be a gametime call. Rest of the week looks decent with chances of storms this weekend.[Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area. Click here for the latest Air Quality Index report for Nyack.]

Covid Update! (threat level: still “low”)

According to CDC data of recent hospitalizations and cases, Rockland’s community threat level of Covid-19 is now considered “Low” after spending 6 weeks over the holidays in the “high” range and then dropping to medium throughout January. With a low designation, the CDC recommends getting tested if you have symptoms or have contact with someone who tests positive. Otherwise, live your life. 

Village updates

Nyack

  • Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
  • If you could use help paying your water bills, click here.
  • Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).

Upper Nyack

South Nyack

  • Due to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at info@nyacknewsandviews.com.

Orangetown

Clarkstown

  • The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
  • For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.

Other Local Updates

South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.

Nyack Schools

Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report, a new regular feature we will post bi-monthly.

Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (nyackschools.org)

Rockland-wide

A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County last summer. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:

  • New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
  • Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
  • For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
  • New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
  • The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
  • Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.

Musical Outro

Ladies and gentlemen, I present a young, up-and-comer named Bruce Springsteen!

Connect with Nyack News and Views

Note to readers: We want to hear from you and welcome your input! What do you think we should be covering in your Rockland County village? Let us know at info@nyacknewsandviews.com. Send us story ideas, issues to investigate, letters, reviews, photos, videos, feedback and news tips. And read about our vision for delivering high-quality, hyper-local journalism and how you can help us fulfill our mission going forward.


Nyack Farmer's Market


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