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Activists call on Walsh to overhaul the Syracuse Police Department

City of Syracuse
Yusuf Abdul Qadir, director of the local chapter of the NYCLU, speaks during a meeting on police reform at Syracuse City Hall Thursday

Several police reform proposals are now in the hands of the city of Syracuse, after a tense, four-hour meeting Thursday, in which the People’s Agenda for Police Reform made their complaints clear.

The People’s Agenda include eight main concerns, and none of them are new. They include taking police and school resource officers out of schools, improving police accountability, cutting the police budget, and creating a new use of force policy.

Yusef Abdul-Qadir, director of the local chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said the community has been talking about these issues for years, and asked for action directly from Mayor Ben Walsh.  

"Either you are part of the solution, or you are facilitating for the maintenance of the problem," he said.

Activists want that action soon, and demanded a timeline from Walsh.

"We will endeavor to provide if not specific responses or action items, but will provide a timeline or response about the implementation of those items within two weeks," Walsh said.

School board officials also noted they will be taking up the school resource officer issue in a meeting later this month.

The issues have reached a boiling point in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota in May, but members of the community contend complaints about police brutality and the way some officers interact with the minority community in Syracuse in the past, haven’t led to substantive change.