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Solidarity fair in New Rochelle brings together many to fight racism

Achieving system change to stop violence the goal of community gathering in New Rochelle
Achieving system change to stop violence the goal of community gathering in New Rochelle 02:12

NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. -- Various organizations from Westchester County and the Hudson Valley gathered at a solidarity fair at Temple Israel of New Rochelle on Sunday.

CBS2's Leah Mishkin got reaction on the latest attack in Buffalo from the groups fighting racism.

As the FBI investigates the supermarket shooting as a racially motivated hate crime, Lisa Burton, a member of New Rochelle Against Racism, said it's a tragic but reoccurring theme.

"The violence and the hatred and the madness of racism is alive and well in our society and it's the people in this room and the people who are likeminded who band together to try to solve this problem because we can't go forward as a nation with this level of violence," Burton said.

Burton told CBS2 her local organization has been working to undo structural racism for years.

"We can fight it talking to our neighbors. We can fight it by trying to understand each other and providing a safe place for these conversations," Burton said.

The Stronger Together Solidarity Fair was already planned for Sunday. But the reason it was created couldn't be more relevant. It was in response to the shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh that killed 11 people in 2018.

"Antisemitism is not in a category by itself. It's a form of racism. Therefore, acting in solidarity is the way to fight, not separating us into separate pools of victims," said Howard Horowitz, co-chair of Temple Israel of New Rochelle's advocacy committee.

Rachel McCullough is with the nonprofit Jews for Racial and Economic Justice.

"There's just so many of these cases now where a hateful person motivated by a hateful white nationalist, white supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-Black ideology chooses to do the unthinkable," McCullough said.

McCullough said the fair is about re-committing to the work all these organizations are doing day in and day out.

"So how do you go about trying to create change so an incident like that does not happen?" Mishkin asked.

"In New York, unfortunately, the state's primary response to hate violence has been punitive. To see if we can simply arrest and prosecute our way out of a problem that is much, much deeper," McCullough said.

She said we need gun laws, investment in education that can prevent and interrupt violence, and more regulation for large tech companies.

"That are allowing this kind of ideology to run rampant online," McCullough said.

As the organizer of the event put it, all these groups individually achieve small gains and deliver benefits, but together they can talk about achieving systemic change.

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