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Commencement speech causes controversy

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The founder of Regeneron delivered a commencement address to students in Yorktown that has been criticized as divisive for its comments on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Commencement addresses are usually uplifting and aspirational – that’s what Yorktown Class of 2020 graduate Austin Delong was hoping for on his big day.

What he says he heard was a speech delivered by Dr. George Yancopoulos that felt divisive, insensitive and even threatening.

Yancopoulos is the co-founder of the Westchester-based biotech firm Regeneron. In his keynote, Dr. Yancopoulos attacked the Black Lives Matter movement, discussed what he said were the societal problems caused by Black on Black violence and vehemently defended police, who he feels are being unfairly maligned.

“Widespread hate and prejudice against all cops is just as wrong as hate and prejudice against race and ethnic groups,” he said.

The speech was so polarizing that the superintendent of Yorktown Central School District sent a note to seniors apologizing for the remarks, saying they do not align with the principles of the school district.

“I felt not only hurt for my child, but for all of the other students that were upset by the speech because this was such an important day for them,” says Delong’s mother, Shawn Geradi Delong.

News 12 reached out to Regeneron for a statement. Dr. Yancopoulos said: “As one of Regeneron’s leaders, I am committed to making progress in this regard.”

He went on to say, “I apologize if my addressing these difficult & complex issues detracted from any of the Yorktown High School graduates’ experience.”

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