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Rensselaer Co. lawmakers defeat resolution to recognize Black Lives Matter movement

Emily Burkhard & WNYT Staff
Updated: July 14, 2020 11:27 PM
Created: July 14, 2020 08:48 PM

TROY - A resolution to recognize the Black Lives Matter movement was defeated in the Rensselaer County Legislature Tuesday night.

The resolution was defeated by a vote of 16-3. Three more lawmakers initially supported the resolution, but ultimately decided to have their names removed from it before voting no tonight.

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Advocates said the goal of the resolution is to provide a first step in addressing systemic racism in Rensselaer County.

“This is really about enlightenment that we have received at this time and through this enlightenment we can move forward,” Minority Leader Peter Grimm said.

Opponents said the resolution took aim at law enforcement saying they target black people disproportionately.

"There's a message there about sticking up for people disadvantage people, regardless of their color, regardless of their socioeconomic status that should've come through, that should've been the forefront of the focus,” Chuck Peter said. “Instead they choose to use hyperbolic language that distracted from that point and that's why we took a stand like we did tonight."

Opponents also took issue with the fact that the resolution did not give specifics on how to address racism in the county.

"If he [Grimm] wants to talk about no knock warrant reform to prevent a Breonna Taylor, let's have that conversation,” Peter said. “If he wants to talk about how we handle petty crimes to prevent a prison pipeline to where young man of color are constantly cycling through prison for small infractions, let's have that conversation. But to attack the very founding of the country and just say outright that we're just all racist, no that's not what we're going to stand for."

Grimm believes Republican county lawmakers have misconstrued the intent of the resolution.

"We're forgetting the most important thing is that we're asking for justice for all Americans and that message seems to be missed here,” Grimm said. “It gets clouded with—it’s attacking police which we are not, that we didn't go through the right process, which we did, you know all of these things are just excuses."

Though legislators did not agree on much Tuesday night, both sides acknowledged that some degree of change is necessary.

“Many of them [Republicans] on the floor tonight said, ‘Yes we agree, change has to happen,’ but apparently they're not ready to step up to make that change,” Grimm said.

Peter told NewsChannel 13 he's willing to work with Democratic lawmakers on concrete plans moving forward.

"We have to do something, we all agree something has to be done,” Peter said. “Let's get together, work on a resolution that we all can support."

The legislature passed a number of other resolutions Tuesday night, including one honoring late Troy PD Detective Sgt. Randall French.

French died in April after battling the coronavirus for about a month. He made headlines back in 2016 after the controversial shooting death of Edson Thevenin during a traffic stop on Hoosick Street.


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