The city of Rochester, NY, has become the epicenter of corruption within the Black political arena as the community suffers. In 2019 Rochester was crowned with the title of the 2nd worst place to live for African Americans, despite having African Americans in leadership positions. Unfortunately, the "browning" of political figures hasn't improved the conditions of its most vulnerable population nor, does it indicated that things will change anytime soon. As financial woes plague many city residents and an increase in crime continues to mount, some Black politicians are engulfed in moral and legal battles of their own.
Monroe County Legislator Ernest Flagler-Mitchell is the latest politician to find himself wrapped up in a "moral" scandal. The 43-year-old married pastor admitted to sending 19-year-old LaKaya Sinclair a photo back in November of his genitals. Flagler-Mitchell claimed the disturbing image "mistakenly" sent through Facebook messenger was for his wife. Now, community members and activists are calling for the politician to resign. The Board of Ethics and law enforcement are investigating the incident. In a statement released publically, Flagler-Mitchell claimed politically connected people are blackmailing him in an attempt for him to abandon the Black and Asian caucus. The accusation of being "extorted" could stem from rumors circulating that local "activists" orchestrated the timing of Ms. Sinclair coming out publicly. According to supporters, the information was conveniently released the day Flagler-Mitchell announced his presidency of the NAACP's local chapter and as the politician gears up for re-election. Unfortunately, Ernest's indiscretions could have a direct impact on Mayor Lovely Warren's campaign.
The mayor is also up for re-election while battling her own legal and moral improprieties. She and Ernest Flagler-Mitchell are linked to the so-called "Gantt Machine" and Warren has been an advocate for Flagler-Mitchell in the past. So, some are calling her out for remaining silent. The mayor has not issued a public statement regarding the investigation into the legislator's actions. In July of 2020, Warren appeared battered and shaken as she spoke passionately about the treatment of Black women. In the news conference, Warren stated, "...I know what speaking out on this issue will most likely mean for me and our city. However, I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors. I have seen too much the people of my community has suffered for too long and I am tired. I am tired of people like Joe Morelle abusing their position to silence women, to silence a Black woman they disagree with. I won't allow this to occur without speaking up. Ms.Lamar and Black and Brown women have a right to speak truth to power..." Now, one of her own stands accused of violating a young Black woman. Will she remain silent or will she hold Ernest accountable? We will be watching.