SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On the heels of Phase Two’s restart in Central New York, another major news story caused protests across the region.
People gathered across Central New York to protest the killing of George Floyd, the man in Minneapolis killed by a police officer.
Saturday night’s protests saw at least 18 City of Syracuse businesses damaged and 7 arrests.
Mayor Ben Walsh joined Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon for Monday’s COVID-19 briefing to discuss the weekend’s events.
Walsh said it was an intense couple of days but as he reflects a few things stand out.
The first thing that stood out to Walsh was the hundreds of people protesting peacefully. He said that’s what this country is about and he was proud that was able to happen in a safe respectful manner. Community leaders encouraged everyone to be safe and police worked with protesters, closing roads for them to march, which Walsh said, were mutual signs of respect.
McMahon echoed Walsh’s point and said that unfortunately a small group of individuals took advantage of the situation and drove their own agenda, not the agenda of the protests.
As a result of Saturday night, city and county-wide curfews were enacted. Monday afternoon, Walsh and McMahon suspended the curfew. “Imposing a curfew is significant and we don’t take it lightly,” said Walsh. “I do not take lightly taking someone’s liberty away.”
Walsh said the primary reason for the curfew was public safety. Property damage and the possibility of harm to the community were why he signed the curfew into effect.
On Sunday morning, the community rallied and worked side by side to clean up the damage done by looters. Walsh said this gave him hope and with Sunday’s protests being peaceful he made the decision to suspend the curfew.
McMahon said some serious things need to be addressed and our community is working on inclusion.
COVID-19 took a backseat to the nation-wide protests. “When you’re looking at reality on the ground, you aren’t enforcing physical distancing,” said McMahon. “COVID-19 isn’t slowing down protests.”
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