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The Onondaga County Legislature handed a decision Tuesday, the primary day of Black Historical past Month, condemning the racist conduct of the county’s previous leaders.
In 1795, the county Board of Supervisors, the legislature’s predecessor group, assessed a property tax on Black individuals within the county, affirming that the board considered Black individuals as property to be taxed.
Linda Ervin, a Democrat within the legislature, launched the measure late Monday after studying in regards to the Board of Supervisors’ previous actions. Ervin, who was the Democratic chief till she stepped down final month, is certainly one of two Black members of the 17-member county legislature.
“We knew there was slavery; we understood that. However as a result of it was on the report, I felt like we should always do one thing now to repudiate that and to sentence racism,” she mentioned. “I assumed it was simply a straightforward factor to do, however it seems to not be really easy.”
The measure handed unanimously, 16-0, however solely after prolonged debate between the legislature’s Democrats and Republicans.
The unique language of Ervin’s proposal included condemning systemic racist practices which proceed at present along with condemning the racist acts of the previous. Some Republicans confirmed reluctance towards it.
“I’m not going to color my group or my youngsters or yours or his or anybody else’s with a broad brush once I don’t know them and I don’t know what they do,” Majority Chief Brian Could, a Republican, told syracuse.com. “I simply don’t assume that’s truthful.”
The phrase “systemic” was faraway from the decision, to the dismay of Ervin and different Democrats. Could and just lately elected Chairman Jim Rowley additionally famous that the vote was made tougher on account of its quick discover, one thing Ervin admitted was unlucky.
The Feb. 1 vote, whereas condemning the previous, additionally acknowledges Black historical past, Ervin mentioned.
“Black Historical past Month is about celebrating and educating. That’s what I used to be doing — educating, correcting and enhancing,” she mentioned. “It’s not all in regards to the positives of what we’ve executed on this county, we try this additionally … however denying there have been issues then, in addition to now, on this county is unsuitable.”
Tim Burtis, a Republican legislator, selected to depart the room proper earlier than the vote started. He returned to his seat in any case remaining legislators voted in favor of the measure. Burtis later advised syracuse.com that he would have abstained from the vote, one thing which isn’t potential for non-binding resolutions.
Charles Garland, the legislature’s different Black member and a Democrat, was dismayed that Burtis selected to not vote on the decision.
“It was uncomfortable, for positive, however it’s an excellent reflection of what’s happening in our nation,” Garland mentioned. “It’s a reluctance to acknowledge our historical past,”
Although the decision did cross, Ervin was let down by her colleagues’ debate on the subject, making the victory lower than what it ought to have been, she mentioned.
“The truth that we bought one thing handed is a victory, sure. Now we have to compromise to get issues executed — half a loaf of bread is healthier than no bread in any respect,” Ervin mentioned. “I bought half a loaf of bread yesterday, however that’s OK.”
Printed on February 2, 2022 at 8:44 pm
Contact Nick: [email protected] | @NickRobertsonSU