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Chauvin conviction a 'step forward,' but BLM Syracuse says the work is far from over

Payne Horning
Black Lives Matter member Mima said the Chauvin verdict was a positive development, but there is a lot of work left to do.

At a recent rally in front of the Syracuse Police Department, a Black Lives Matter member who goes by the name Queen said the conviction of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is a conflicting one for many black Americans. Queen said the guilty verdict could not have been obtained if not for the activism of BLM chapters around the country, like in Syracuse. Yet, celebrations are premature.

"It is OK to take a breath and feel relieved because we needed at least one win, no matter how fleeting, to ensure us that our efforts were not in vain," Queen said. "In the same breath it is OK to acknowledge the pain and anger you may still feel."

Another BLM member who introduced herself as Mima said it's hard to consider the guilty verdict a victory.

"There are still situations where this is happening, so the pressure still needs to be applied," Mima said. "We still need to hold them accountable. One guilty charge does not make up for all the others that was happening and all the others that are still happening."

BLM says there is a lot of ground to cover in Syracuse, specifically with the People's Agenda for Policing, a list released last summer of nine demands for Mayor Ben Walsh's administration. Elements of that list have been implemented. All Syracuse police officers are now equippedwith body cameras and must turn them on prior to each encounter. And the Syracuse Common Council adopted the requested Right to Know lawthat requires officers to tell citizens why they are being stopped and provide them with a business card identifying who the officer is.

Others are on hold. For example, school resource officers have not been removed from city schools but the Syracuse City School District is looking into a new school safety model. However, of particular importance to BLM are the demands that remain unanswered, like enhancing the power of the Citizens Review Board that looks into police misconduct and redirecting resources away from police.

"Reduce the size, scope, power, and budget of the Syracuse Police Department and refund Syracuse schools, invest in the Syracuse community, and programs that ensure, maintain, and assert that all black lives matter," Queen said. 

Payne Horning is a reporter and producer, primarily focusing on the city of Oswego and Oswego County. He has a passion for covering local politics and how it impacts the lives of everyday citizens. Originally from Iowa, Horning moved to Muncie, Indiana to study journalism, telecommunications and political science at Ball State University. While there, he worked as a reporter and substitute host at Indiana Public Radio. He also covered the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly for the statewide Indiana Public Broadcasting network.