A group of Rensselaer County residents plan to gather at the County Legislative Building late this afternoon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
When the Rensselaer County Legislature meets tonight it will consider a several resolutions, including one introduced by Minority Leader Peter Grimm and fellow Democrats representing Troy, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Grimm says the resolution calls for racial justice.
"The current status of the resolution is that it will hopefully be on the floor this evening bythe full legislature. This resolution was brought on in response to the whole Black Lives Matter movement and the enlightenment that it has given us all to the systemic racism that's in the country, and you know, that now is the time to address these things, and this is in fact probably a time that offers us a renewed vigor in being able to work on this."
Dan Phiffer, speaking for the protesters, says they will be just outside the entrance to the County Legislature chambers around 4:45 to begin a vigil in support of the resolution.
"The resolution in support of BLM isn't sufficient but is a neccessary first step. We think that there's a lot of area for improvement in the way that black friends and neighbors are treated by police, as well as some other structural racsim issues that are are also in the resolution are identified but not addressed."
Grimm says the resolution, slightly reworded from its original form, acknowledges that America is a nation steeped in racism and calls for an end to "white privilege and the myth of white supremacy if we are to become the nation we pledge to be."
"You know we're calling upon all state, local and national agencies and institutions, and, of course the legislature, to look at how we've been doing things. And this is not just in law enforcement. This is also in education, health care, social service agencies, to you know, study what we can do to end this. If not now, than when?"
The neighbors group claims Republican majorityis determined to silence the BLM resolution. Phiffer says County Legislature Chairman Mike Stammel, who is also the mayor of Rensselaer, contacted legislators who sponsored it, asking them to withdraw their names as sponsors, and three of six representatives from Troy did. Stammel was not available for comment.
"I think the main message that I'd like for all of the legislature, legislators to hear, both the ones who supported the BLM resolution and those who are against it, is just to include Troy for Black Lives in the discussion. They were the ones who organized the rally that brought 11,000 people to Troy. They're the ones who have a very specific set of demands. And they've just have been excluded in this whole conversation so far."
Grimm says the resolution has already gone through rules...
"And rules is when it is voted by both sides, and in this case it is three of the majority members and two of the minority members discussed the resolution and then voted it out to committee which will get it to the floor. In this case, of the two from the minority office, myself and deputy Minority Leader Cindy Doran, voted in favor for it and so did the chairman, Chairman Stammel, voted in favor of this resolution to go to the floor. Since the rules committee, we have made some amendments to this. In conversations I've had with constituents, with civic leaders from different community groups, also from leaders of law enforcement and elected officials, we have not changed the intent of the resolution at all, but we have added the voices of members of the community that I have spoken with that have given input for this to make it clear what the message is and how it can affect us all."
Some law enforcement officials reportedly expressed concerns that the resolution did not accurately portray police-community relations. Neither Rensselaer County Sheriff Patrick Russo nor the Troy Police Benevolent Association responded to requests for comment in time for broadcast.
A copy of the resolution is provided below:
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT, CALLING FOR RACIAL JUSTICE FOR BLACK PEOPLE AND PEOPLE OF COLOR
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 can not ignore these injustices that have unfairly target Black people and other people of color; and
WHERAS, 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 in Troy, 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;
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.