2020 in Review – Activism Matters: City of Syracuse, Syracuse Police Department, and the Commitment to Transparency in Response to Summer Protests

Dashboard created to monitor commitments and corresponding actions provide tangible milestones as negotiated with local area protestors.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people took to the streets this summer, demanding police accountability. These protests eventually generated a list of demands, which were presented to the Walsh Administration. The administration agreed to a set of demands, executive action was taken.  The Syracuse Common Council voted on legislation, in direct response to actions taken by those committed to holding both the Syracuse Police Department and Syracuse City Hall accountable.

There are those who would never be satisfied unless the chants of “Defund the police” were taken and acted upon literally. As African Americans are statistically victims of crime, one slogan; taken out of context has caused people to really believe that one day you will pick up your phone and the police will not come.

Syracuse Police Reform web portal

Most protestors were adamant about their opposition to the militarization of our police.  Defunding simply meant placing funds in areas that truly help reduce crime, especially violence. Not every incident is a crime, mental health has emerged as a major contributing factor in some cases. Demands are for having adequate resources to handle mental health, and to structurally change how policing is done in Syracuse.

A month of daily protests. The visceral community-wide call to action created the atmosphere, generated the creative tension, results of which can be monitored. Links below are to articles on urbancny.com which details the city’s commitment along with associated revisions to policies and procedures.

The issues that caused a nation to convulse resulted in; a Mayor, a city, a Common Council, and a Police Department to respond to the will of the people. There’s even a way to check on their progress toward agreed upon goals. It’s called transparency, something we’ve never had from previous Syracuse City Hall administrations, regardless of how “Progressive” they appeared.

Photo Annabele Hine Otts