Updated: July 14, 2020 06:25 PM
Created: July 14, 2020 07:22 AM
TROY – The Rensselaer County Legislature is meeting Tuesday and is expected to vote on a number of resolutions including one that shows support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Three legislators are bringing the resolution forward and it calls for racial justice for Black people and people of color.
"The first step is to recognize that there's a problem and to state that we as the Rensselaer County Legislature acknowledge that problem and are willing to take steps to start to rectify it," explained Legislator Mark Fleming.
Fleming said some words were changed from the original resolution after hearing concerns from the Republican majority.
Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo said it was the first resolution brought forward by some legislators that he had a problem with, especially multiple references to law enforcement and racism. But even with amended resolution, he says this issue shouldn't be political.
"There is a need for some reform in the criminal justice system, but we're united in a belief that all lives matter and changes can be accomplished by sides coming together and talking not by hateful resolutions," said Russo.
Troy Police Chief Brian Owens said the Troy Police Department continuously has conversations with the community over their concerns.
"These are conversations and interactions we have had going on for many years. This isn't new," said Owens. "But more recent events have called more attention to matters of concern for the neighborhood."
Fleming says this is about coming together as a community to make change.
"I know the police have a really tough job. They do a really great job in Troy. I can speak firsthand for that," said Fleming. "But it’s not about the individual on the street. It’s about systemic racism. Not from the City of Troy personally or the man on the beat or the man in the car. This comes from the top down in our government and it has for many years."
Here is the amended resolution:
WHEREAS, The deaths of George Floyd and countless other black people have focused our nation’s attention on the continuing structural and systemic racism that plague our communities; and
WHEREAS, Data shows that black people and historically marginalized people of color are disproportionately criminalized and targeted by excessive force and brutality by law enforcement; and
WHEREAS, The Rensselaer County Legislature cannot ignore these injustices that have unfairly targeted Black people and other people of color; and
WHEREAS, In order to progress in these challenging times, this legislative body believes we, as a nation, need to make drastic changes to the traditional way of doing things. We acknowledge that we have the opportunity to address systemic racism with a renewed vigor and widespread support in a way that can and will be transformative; and
WHEREAS, In order for such metamorphic change it is essential for all communities of our nation to acknowledge that it is time for change; and
WHEREAS, The Black Lives Matter movement has brought to the forefront the current crisis, which is a result of well–established racism and socio-economic inequalities that have marginalized, discriminated against and harmed Black people and people of color. Education, housing, employment, healthcare and every aspect of American life have been impacted; and
WHEREAS, On June 7, 2020, in the City of Troy, an estimated 11,000 people attended a Rally for Black Lives, demonstrating peacefully for an end to racism and supporting systematic reforms; and
WHEREAS, This legislature recognizes, appreciates and supports the work and dedication of our honorable public servants and the model set by them in their handling of a demonstration of such magnitude; and
WHEREAS, The Rensselaer County Legislature acknowledges painfully that America is a nation steeped in racism. We must end white privilege and the myth of white supremacy if we are to become the nation we pledge to be; and
WHEREAS, The Rensselaer County Legislature believes in individual liberties, civil rights, human rights, and voting rights. We defend democracy and oppose all threats to the constitutional rights; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED, That the Rensselaer County Legislature advocates against systemic racism from this day forward in this nation. We also call upon our local, state and national legislative members to task our institutions and agencies to collaborate and address the problem of systemic racism within all institutional practices and public policies and by instituting programs of change that will end racism, insure justice and continue to build and transform our communities to be welcoming and inclusive of all; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Rensselaer County Legislature help our elected officials and all Americans recognize these truths to be self-evident; that Black, Indigenous and all people of color (BICOP) deserve equal protection under the law; and that we demand solutions for the terrible wrongs done, so that regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, and gender identity or sexual orientation we may truly become a nation "indivisible", with liberty and justice for all; and, be it further
RESOLVED, That the Clerk of the Legislature transmit a copy of this resolution, suitably engrossed, to Senators Charles Schumer & Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressmen Paul Tonko & Antonio Delgado, NYS Senators Neil Breslin & Daphne Jordan, Assembly members John McDonald & Jacob Ashby and Governor Andrew Cuomo.
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