NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WIVB) – Niagara Falls Mayor Rob Restaino said Monday he will be forming a commission to take a look at social justice issues. The announcement comes after multiple protests in the Cataract City in recent weeks since the death of George Floyd.
“I must say, I am proud of the residents of the City of Niagara Falls and how they have conducted themselves with respect to the demonstrations,” Restaino said.
The demonstrations are yielding results. Restaino says he wants the commission to include no more than seven people, with smaller committees possibly branching off. No date has been revealed for the first meeting of commissioners, however Restaino said he hopes they conclude their study by the end of August.
“I would hope that once I have all of the names in place, I’ll be able to list for you who the leaders of our community will be,” Restaino said.
The mayor will ask commissioners to focus on several topics: law enforcement, health care, housing, education, and economic opportunities.
Make Laurrie, the superintendent of the Niagara Falls City School District, says the mayor has asked him to be involved with this effort. He agrees there is an education component of public justice reform.
“What we have to do when we return, in whatever fashion we return, to school is we have to keep this conversation going as public educators,” Laurrie said.
He added, “We have to recruit professionals that look like the kids in front of them. We’re not there yet and we’re not close enough to that yet. But it’s a goal for this board of education and this district.”
Restaino also said it is important for the city to take the commission’s recommendations and turn them into action.
“I know the city council will be prepared to engage as well once this commission has its recommendations delivered to me,” he said.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter and anchor who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.