Mayor lauds peaceful protest

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Mayor Jacqueline M. Izzo said that though she was unable to attend Monday’s protest in Rome against police brutality she praised Romans for “exercising their Constitutional right to free speech through a respectful demonstration outside our public safety building.”

Izzo said she was “not able to be there as I had a Mohawk Valley Regional Control Group meeting at the same time.” The protest outside the police department on North James Street lasted about four hours Monday evening and drew over 100 people throughout that time.

Tuesday, Izzo commented on the protests and the incident that galvanized so many to take to the streets, the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis last week.

“The incident involving Mr. Floyd was abhorrent and inexcusable. Unfortunately, arrests happen but under no circumstances are police officers entitled to use excessive force to the point of causing a senseless fatality. Further, the officers who stood by and did nothing to defend the victim are equally as guilty and should be charged as accessories to the murder of Mr. Floyd,” Izzo said.

“The right for citizens to protest is protected under the Constitution, and yesterday afternoon and evening at rallies in Rome and Utica our citizens are to be commended for exercising their Constitutional right to free speech through a respectful demonstration outside our
public safety building. Our officers were present and understand the frustration surrounding this unfortunate arrest of Mr. Floyd.”

Izzo said that several times she has witnessed “the respectful stance taken by members of our police department to calmly and professionally diffuse situations which could quickly spiral out of control. We will continue to provide training to enhance their response to citizens under duress.” At the Rome protest, Deputy Chief Kevin Simons met with the initial group gathered outside the building to introduce himself and offer help if needed. A few officers went out to the protest later in the evening but there was no large-scale police presence and no use of riot gear.

Tuesday, another more informal protest was held outside the police department though it was a smaller gathering than Monday.

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