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City considers mural to “Back the Blue”

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Cortland Common Council met last night where city leaders continued the local discussion on race and community-police relations.

Another “Black Lives Matter” rally held Saturday at Courthouse Park featured one speaker who delivered strong anti-police comments that several council members outright disagreed with.

One of those who countered the rhetoric was Mayor Brian Tobin, who said he’s proud of the city police force and confident that every local officer in the Cortland area is committed to serving their community equally.

He then called out the Oswego County Sheriff’s Department for participating in a Trump-Tenney boat rally over the weekend on Oneida Lake.

“Just north of here, the sheriff’s department flew a political flag on a Tenney boat during a political rally. That’s a clear violation of impartiality by governmental standards,” Tobin said. “We’re all humans who make mistakes, but at this time our expectations need to be consistent.”

Discussions also continued on the painting of city curbs and sidewalks, after several residents have done so to support police since the city-authorized a yellow ‘Black Lives Matter’ mural on Main Street last month.

Mayor Tobin says the main issue with painting curbs blue deals with potential traffic and parking confusion.

“Blue is also associated with parking for people with disabilities,” Tobin said. “It can become confusing – in particular for visitors – who may see these blue curbs and think they can’t park in these places when doing so is permitted.”

At this point, the city prohibits any painting of curbs or sidewalks, but did leave open the possibility for a future street design supporting law enforcement.

Two individual requests were brought up for initial consideration, including a blue stripe along Greenbush street and a “Back the Blue” mural at a location to be determined.

Ward 6 Alderman and career police officer Bill Carpenter said last night his preference would be the latter option.

“I like Back the Blue, myself. I think it stands out,” Carpenter said. “Also, we may run into issues with a stripe on Greenbush Street being too long. We could paint Back the Blue in just a little spot, just like we did with Black Lives Matter.”

Additional discussions are planned with potential organizers of the initiative, with more information likely by the next council meeting on August 18.

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