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Cornel West Urges Westchester To Stand With Kenneth Chamberlain

Dr. Cornel West speaks in White Plains on April 20 at a town hall meeting on police accountability.
Dr. Cornel West speaks in White Plains on April 20 at a town hall meeting on police accountability. Photo Credit: Nathan Bruttell

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Dr. Cornel West wants everyone to know that he is standing with Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. after the shooting death of his father Kenneth Chamberlain Sr. by White Plains police.

West spoke to more than 200 people packed into Mount Hope A.M.E Zion Church Saturday for a town hall meeting on police oversight and accountability. Kenneth Sr. , 68, was fatally shot by White Plains police responding to a medical alert that was set off accidentally by the former Marine and corrections officer around 5 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2011. He refused to open the door to allow police to verify his condition. A recording of the heated exchange between Chamberlain and the police outside his Winbrook Housing apartment was taken by the Life Aid representative who had called him .

West, a popular activist and author now regularly featured on PBS’ Tavis Smiley, told the crowd that it was important for him to visit White Plains after hearing Kenneth Chamberlain Jr. speak about the injustice and lack of police accountability.

“I deeply love and respect my brother Kenneth. He’s a brother of integrity,” West said. “What I love about this brother is that he’s not concerned primarily with being successful. He’s concerned about being faithful to something bigger than him. He’s concerned about the justice, not just for his precious father, but for all of the other people here in White Plains and other places. We stand with you.”

West later urged Westchester residents to speak up to their elected officials about the injustice and face it with love, integrity and honesty.

“Let the powers that be in this city, state and nation know that we care and we are willing to tell the truth,” West said. “White Plains something is happening here. Let’s keep this love train going for brother Kenneth.”

Chamberlain said he hopes others will join him in seeking justice and keeping police and those in the justice system honest. He added that he eventually plans to start a foundation in his father’s name.

“My father is a victim of gun violence,” he said. “The only difference is the people that shot him swore an oath to serve and protect.”

The family previously filed a $21 million wrongful death lawsuit and has asked U.S. Attorney’s office to investigate the incident. Randolph McLaughlin, lawyer for the Chamberlain family and professor at Pace University, said it was clear “something was rotten” with the justice system in Westchester.

“They came in there and killed him in cold blood,” McLaughlin said. “Surely that cannot be the law in this country. The fourth amendment that protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures in our homes, protects us against this kind of lawlessness.”

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