Rock Island County Board issues proclamation against racism
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Rock Island County Board issues proclamation against racism

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Bill Long welcomes those attending the Ronald Reagan Breakfast Club outside in the parking lot at City Limits Saloon, Wednesday, May. 6, in Rock Island.

Invoking the name of George Floyd, the African-American man killed by a white police officer while being detained in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, Rock Island County board members have issued a proclamation against racial disparity, inequity and violence. 

During a county governance, health and administration committee meeting Monday morning, committee members voted to accept the proclamation which reads in part, "The death of George Floyd in police custody is both a singular tragedy and an emblem of the deep and systemic racism that stands in the way of our shared task to form a more perfect union. 

"Across the country fellow (residents) who are persons of color have been and continue to be victimized by police violence incommensurate with the severity of the crimes — actual and alleged — involved in their police interactions, and a profound debt of gratitude is owed by all (residents) of Rock Island County to the committed and conscientious professionals who make up the vast majority of law enforcement in our community, who by their statements and actions join us in seeking an end to racial violence.

"The Rock Island County board stands with those who seek to constructively address racial disparity and inequity in all its forms," the proclamation states. 

During the public comments portion of the meeting, resident Bill Long objected to the singular use of Floyd's name.

"Who is that (proclamation) supposed to be from?" Long asked. "Is it from the board, from the public or from (board chairman) Richard Brunk? I know it just contains one name and I think that's wrong. If we want to make a proclamation or a statement — which is good — we shouldn't use any individual names. I think it ought to state something like, 'the current atmosphere of hatred and social unrest is unacceptable.'"

Long said the proclamation shouldn't just focus on race. 

"I think we ought to ensure the residents of Rock Island County that our county board will instruct the sheriff's department and advise the other law enforcement departments in the county to review the procedures and training to ensure all citizens of Rock Island County they will be treated — regardless of color, sex, race, religion or residency — equally and with dignity.

"Let's not put our law enforcement departments under the bus with this proclamation."

The proclamation will advance to Wednesday's committee of the whole meeting for approval and if passed, advance to the June 16 regular meeting for final approval. 

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