ALBANY, N.Y. – More than a year after his death and seven months since the three Albany Police officers who tased him were cleared of any wrongdoing, local African-American clergy members discussed the Donald "Dontay" Ivy case outside City Hall on Thursday.
"April 2, 2015 is a day that is etched in the minds of our residents,” said David Traynham, pastor of the New Horizons Christian Church. “One of our own was taken from us.
"Nothing that we have done is going to say that the hurt and the pain is just going to go away."
"Every time I come to these events, it's almost like the wound is open all over again," said Celinda Okwuosa, Ivy’s aunt.
Joined by Okwuosa, the small group discussed their ongoing conversations over recent months with local law enforcement leaders. They've asked for several changes within the city's police force, including requiring officers to wear body cameras and undergo further training for harm reduction and community policing.
"These specific changes are only the beginning of healing our city," Traynham said.
"We have a couple of things that are going on, things they'd like and things we wanted as well ... the body cameras; we're in the process of doing a policy," said Albany Police Chief Brendan Cox, who did not attend the Thursday event.
As clergy wrapped up talking about their vision for Albany's future, the event was disrupted by members from the groups Black Lives Matter and the New York Civil Liberties Union. They called proposed reforms "woefully inadequate" and even criticized the clergy for not inviting Okwuosa until the last minute.
"None of these proposed reforms address the systemic issues of racial profiling, unconstitutional stop-and-frisk policing and unaccountable use of violence by police," said Colin Donnaruma, the NYCLU Capital Region Chapter Board president.
Okwuosa quickly diffused the situation, calling the late invite a misunderstanding; going on to echo the feelings of others that relations between the African-American community and police won't improve unless everyone works together.
"I'm very appreciative of what they've done,” Okwuosa said. “I'm very appreciative of where we're going, because hopefully, this will never happen again in this city."