Tompkins County Legislators, Sheriff Condemn Killing of George Floyd

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ENFIELD, NY (WSKG) – The Tompkins County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday night condemning the killing of George Floyd.

A Minneapolis police officer is charged with manslaughter in Floyd’s death, who was handcuffed and in police custody. The killing sparked protests, marches and violence around the United States. A third protest against police brutality and racism is scheduled in Ithaca on Wednesday.

The resolution was added to the agenda on Tuesday night.

Leslyn McBean-Clairborne, who chairs the legislature, said the resolution was only a start and much more action is needed to dismantle the institutional racism embedded in society.

Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio

Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne (Celia Clarke/WSKG Public Radio)

“It is time for community, for colleagues, who are white, who have the ability and the privilege to be heard — to take action,” said McBean-Clairborne.

McBean-Clairborne said too often people of color are expected to come up with ways to end racism, but have been ignored.

“I will be there with you shoulder to shoulder so we do it together, but don’t ask me for the solution,” the chairwoman said. “I can probably tell you what it should be — but no one is going to listen.”

McBean-Clairborne expects to get hate mail as a result of her comments. She added that it has happened before.

She is the first person of color to become chair of the Tompkins County Legislature.

Another official who agrees concrete action is needed is Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne.

“Today, we put out a new policy first thing this morning. Duty to intervene — which reminds law enforcement officers that you may not be committing the act, but if you’re merely standing there watching it happen you’re just as guilty as the person committing it and that’s not something we’re gonna tolerate at the Sheriff’s office,” Osborne said.

The sheriff called the killing of George Floyd a murder and “evil.” Osborne said it was the result of a failure of leadership in the Minneapolis Police Department. Given the excess force complaints against the officer, Osborne said the officer should never have been on the job.

The legislature also heard an updated report about the status of COVID-19 in Tompkins County and a report from the county administrator on the pandemic’s budget impacts.

Lawmakers passed another resolution asking New York State to allow the release of non-violent parole violators from the county jail.