Former Police Accountability Board(PAB) member Miquel Powell, voiced his dissatisfaction with the group's decision to hire Conor Dwyer Reynolds. In May, the PAB has been stripped of some of its duties after Judge John Ark ruled that they could not rule on disciplinary actions against police officers. The judge determined, “Since Local Law Np. 2’s conflict with the Rochester City Charter does not render wither law wholly invalid, it is for the City Council to amend and/or repeal contradictory provisions in the charter,” Ark’s ruling read. “Accordingly, Local Law No. 2 is referred back to the Rochester City Council to be reconciled and made compliant with the New York State Law and the Rochester City Charter.” That decision is currently under appeal.
However, that has not stopped the board from conducting business as usual. The move to hire Reynolds, who is white, as the first Executive Director, “is insane”, Powell said. According to Powell, Conor beat out many well qualified Black candidates. Powell posted on Facebook, “Don’t let that Yale and "very qualified” sh*t fool you. All you needed for the PAB Executive Director position was an Associates Degree plus some experience”. However, race is something that is all too common when it comes to who is hired and who is not. Studies show that since 1990 white applicants received, on average, 36% more callbacks than black applicants and 24% more callbacks than Latino applicants with identical résumés based on a report released by Harvard Business Review.
Americanbar.org noted that the U.S. Census Bureau report on poverty, “The poverty rate for women aged 18 to 64 was 13.4 percent, while the poverty rate for men aged 18 to 64 was 9.7 percent, 3.7 percentage points lower.” The difference in poverty rates is in part due to structural racism that prevents minority women from obtaining the same employment opportunities as Caucasians, limiting their ability to earn living wages.
These findings make it safe to assume the former Yale Lecturer and Rochester native’s race may have played a role in his hiring. Reynolds will gross eighty-thousand dollars per year, that is almost twice, in some cases triple that of the average wage for city residents. While board members, who are mostly people of color, are working without pay.
According to Forbes.com Black wages at the median in 2019 were only 75.6 percent of white wages 3.6 percent increase from 2000, when Black wages at the median were 79.2 percent of white wages. Even when looking at wages by education level, Blacks are paid less than whites. Blacks with advanced degrees are paid 82.4 cents for each dollar earned by whites with an advanced degree.
Unfortunately, systemic racism is deeply embedded in the fabric of our society. Tragedies like the murder of Daniel Prude triggered watchdog groups like Black Lives Matter and Free the People Roc to ring the alarm when justice fails. Will the PAB have that same passion when it is time to hold the police accountable? Racism is the reason our community voted for a group that we believed could render the justice we are looking for. But, can we trust their judgment? Reynolds may "be qualified", however, he represents everything that systemic racism is. He has benefited from a society that has allowed him to OUT qualify his counterparts of color just by default. Are y'all woke yet?!