NISKAYUNA – An “appointed official” with the town of Niskayuna has been suspended and an investigation launched after the Town Board Monday received a report alleging the employee appeared in an online photo in blackface, Niskayuna Supervisor Yasmine Syed said in a release issued late Tuesday.
The release did not name the suspended official and it directed questions to the town attorney. The attorney did not answer at the number provided late Tuesday.
According to Syed’s release issued just before 10 p.m., the board received the report Monday that alleged “a Facebook post of an appointed official showed the employee in blackface.”
In response, the board called an emergency executive session Monday afternoon and directed an investigation be done by outside legal counsel, Syed’s release read.
“In accordance with Section 406 of the Town’s Employee Handbook, the Town has suspended the employee pending the outcome of the investigation, given the gravity of the allegations and in light of the employee’s position of authority within the Town,” the release read.
“In any context, the use of blackface has racist connotations and is offensive and unacceptable,” the release continued. “Equality and inclusivity are the standard for our community and our Town offices and employees.”
The board will take the appropriate action once the outside investigation is complete, Syed said.
“We are grateful to the members of our community who provided this report and encourage anyone who sees racism or discrimination to say something so we can address it,” the release concluded.
The incident comes just over a week after protesters held a Black Lives Matter rally outside Niskayuna Town Hall, one of countless protests both locally and nationally against systemic racism. The protests around the country came in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes last month.