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Black Lives Matter protests in Syracuse have support from some elected officials

A Black Lives Matter poster.

Two separate Black Lives Matter protests are scheduled for Monday in downtown Syracuse. Some elected officials support the movement and are prepared to meet with demonstrators.

The Black Lives Matter movement came in response to the killings of African Americans by police officers across the country. Syracuse is not immune to the disconnect between the African American community and police. A Father’s Day shooting in the city, during which a man was shot and killed and an officer fired her gun, once again exposed the rift. The investigation into the officer’s involvement in the shooting is ongoing but at a recent community meetings some African Americans said they do not trust or feel safe around the police. Syracuse Common Councilor Helen Hudson said she supports the movement because there are some issues of police brutality across the country.

“Even with the crime and violence happening in the cities, it’s not the whole population it’s a small percentage of these young folks, just as it’s a small percentage of the police officers,” Hudson said. "We have to work on better relations. We have to learn how to sit down and communicate with each other. We have to work on being human with each other, that’s the only way I see things changing."

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said it is an important movement and she is willing to meet with protesters. She balances that with supporting the police department by calling for more discussions, listening and understanding.

“This is an important part of the American process of democracy of calling attention to injustice; of peacefully marching and saying that our system listens to peaceful protests," Miner said. "People have a right to speak, and then we take those protests and the right to speak and that message and put it into our system to make a better solution. The first step is exactly what you see people doing: meeting, talking and expressing the fact that they see injustice and they don’t want it. What we can’t have is people just blaming each other or saying it’s your fault, you haven’t done enough. What we need to do is have discussion and then say here is my role in making sure it is a better community for everyone.”

Black Lives Matter protests have not all been peaceful; more than 70 people were arrested in Rochester at a rally a little more than a week ago. Organizers from the two separate rallies in Syracuse are asking people to come in peace. Miner said there will not be more than the normal police presence at other protests for the black lives matter rallies. Miner said anyone who is not peaceful will be dealt with appropriately.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.