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State lawmakers pushing police reform bills following killing of George Floyd

Ellen Abbott
Protesters attend a rally in Syracuse Thursday

Protests over police brutality and the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis are pushing ahead state and local legislation that has languished for years.

There are 13 pieces of legislation in New York that the state Assembly’s Black and Latino caucus hopes to pass as soon as next week. During a rally in Syracuse Thursday, Syracuse-area Assemblywoman Pam Hunter said some of these proposed laws have been kicking around the Capitol for years, but the death of Floyd has brought them to the forefront.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
Syracuse-area State Assemblywoman Pam Hunter speaks at a rally in Syracuse Thursday

"Watching a man die in front of your eyes, and no one doing anything to stop it, that’s enough," Hunter said. “We want police accountability, we want police reform. We want to make sure that if someone makes a 911 call and a false claim, this is potentially a hate crime.  We want to make sure if somebody is lying on the ground and they say they need medical attention, they get it right then."

She expects the Assembly to pass legislation ranging from medical attention for people under arrest, to disclosing police misconduct to the public. Syracuse Common Councilor Khalid Bey said he’ll also be proposing legislation that couldn’t get traction years ago.

"Obligating the state to force departments to reconsider their use of force. And this is essentially what we’re talking about here," Bey said. "If we did that, we wouldn’t have to find so many nooks and crevices to correct."

Rev. H. Bernard Alex of the Victory Temple Fellowship Church in Syracuse encouraged protesters at the rally to hold lawmakers accountable for these police reform measures.

"Don’t miss this moment, we may never see it like this again, don’t let ‘em quit," he said. "Hold them to the flame."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.