The Central New York chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union is hosting a panel discussion about the ongoing plans for I-81, and how it will impact racial isolation and economic exclusion in Onondaga County.
The panel will be moderated by Director Yusuf Abdul-Qadir. He says plans for the highway must include consideration of the issues of poverty and segregation in the city.
“It’s unfathomable that we would have a community that has the highest concentrations of poverty of African Americans and Latinos and not use this as a means to address those issues."
Abdul-Qadir added there has not been enough discussion about how plans for I-81 will affect low and moderate income communities and people of color.
“We’re concerned that if we don’t put racial justice and economic justice at the front of the conversation, it will be at the end of the conversation.”
The event is being held to raise awareness and build a coalition of people who can advocate for racial justice in the planning process. Abdul-Qadir says it’s vital that people stay engaged.
“I think because and I am being frank the process has been so long, it’s very complicated and convoluted people become disinterested. People become, why am I going to another 81 meeting, or nothing I say is really going to matter. And I want people to know that their voices do, in fact, matter.”
The Department of Transportation has yet to release a draft environmental impact report. Once it has there will be a period of public comment. Abdul-Qadir says they hope community members will comment, asking the DOT to make inclusive communities a priority.
The Department of Transportation did not return a request for comment on when the report will be available.