Saratoga Springs to crack down on street protests

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Categories: News, Saratoga County

SARATOGA SPRINGS — After an All of Us street protest last Friday that city officials say generated hundreds of complaints about intimidation of people dining outside at restaurants or visiting the city, the city will crack down on unpermitted protests that block streets, the assistant police chief said Thursday.

That change in policy was announced at a tense special City Council meeting, at which council members said they have repeatedly but unsuccessfully sought to meet with All of Us to discuss their concerns, even as protests have continued.

“It is time to make some changes,” said Mayor Meg Kelly. “We cannot have this happening over and over again in the city of Saratoga Springs.”

Speaking at a meeting called specifically to discuss the recent All of Us and Black Lives Matter protests, Assistant Police Chief John Catone said the Police Department supports the right to peaceful protest, and no permit is needed for demonstrations that don’t block streets or impede pedestrians.

But protests like the one last Friday evening, which began in Congress Park and then made an impromptu march through downtown streets while chanting slogans, may be met in the future with arrest, unless All of Us leaders are willing to meet with police to plan for a safe event, Catone said.

Anyone blocking streets in the future, Catone said, will be given a warning to stop, “and if they fail to do so the appropriate police action will be taken, and they may be subject to arrest.”

Catone delivered the message to a City Council chamber filled with both residents and All of Us supporters, as council members repeatedly said they want to start a dialogue with All of Us, which was formed this summer as part of the national reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while he was in police custody. All of Us has held protests in Schenectady, Albany and other communities, as well as Saratoga.

All of Us members have denounced the city and its Police Department as racist, and racism was implied by group members who addressed the council in response to the new policy.

Lexis Figueroa, a Saratoga Springs organizer of All of Us, said he has heard city officials are linked to a Facebook page he views as racist. He accused city officials of not caring about their cause or wanting to meet until Friday’s demonstration made people dining in the city feel uncomfortable.

“It seems business and property is more important than people,” said Figueroa, who was later ordered to leave the room for interrupting other speakers.

Before that, however, all City Council members said they want to meet with All of Us.

“I would just implore everyone, instead of making threats against each other, let’s get a dialogue going,” said Accounts Commissioner John Franck.

“I would like to meet,” said Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan. “We all serve an essential roll in this form of city government,” she said, noting her office controls city spending, including that on the Police Department.

Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, who said she has reached out repeatedly to Figueroa without being able to start a dialogue, asked for Thursday’s special meeting, saying she had received hundreds of complaints from businesses, residents and visitors about last Friday night’s protests. “One person’s constitutional rights do not supersede another’s,” she said.

Dalton showed two videos from the street march, during which loud profanity could be heard, and in one,  All of Us co-founder Jamaica Miles can be heard shouting through a bullhorn at people dining outdoors outside Hattie’s and Thai Sushi Bistro, saying “You all can have dinner while Black people are dying,” and “You are really (expletive) comfortable out here having dinner.”

The protesters also chanted Darryl Mount’s name.

Protests in Saratoga this summer have been driven in part by the 2013 death of Mount, a local biracial man who police say was gravely injured in a fall from construction scaffolding in downtown Saratoga Springs. He fell while fleeing from police, who had seen him assault his girlfriend, officials said. He was in a coma after the fall and died seven months later.

Mount’s family, however, has sued the city, maintaining that Mount was actually beaten by police. Police deny he was assaulted, but then-Police Chief Greg Veitch was criticized for saying there would be an internal investigation, though one was never conducted.

In a statement about the protests issued on Monday, police said they were aware of plans for the protest starting at 5:30 p.m. in Congress Park, and assigned marked police units after the group began marching in the streets, chanting slogans calling for racial justice. The Police Department thanked the traveling public for dealing with any inconvenience caused by street shutdowns, which continued until the group returned to Congress Park at about 9 p.m.

“There were no arrests or known negative interactions between law enforcement and any of the protesters during the event,” police said.

“I’d like to thank police for the patience they’ve had,” resident Gayle LaSalle told the council. “Only cooperation gets things done … Yelling and screaming makes you feel good, but it’s short term.”

3 Comments

William Marincic

All Of Us is just another group that is being run by a felon who was charged with a home invasion where a gun was put to the head of a four year old child. just another group of people trying to intimidate others. BLM and this group are setting race relations back decades, 68% of Americans say they believe Law and Order to be a top issue.

https://www.congress.gov/116/bills/s894/BILLS-116s894is.xml

(1) White supremacists and other far-right-wing extremists are the most significant domestic terrorism threat facing the United States.

(2) On February 22, 2019, a Trump Administration United States Department of Justice official wrote in a New York Times op-ed that “white supremacy and far-right extremism are among the greatest domestic-security threats facing the United States. Regrettably, over the past 25 years, law enforcement, at both the Federal and State levels, has been slow to respond. … Killings committed by individuals and groups associated with far-right extremist groups have risen significantly.”.

(3) An April 2017 Government Accountability Office report on the significant, lethal threat posed by domestic violent extremists explained that “[s]ince September 12, 2001, the number of fatalities caused by domestic violent extremists has ranged from 1 to 49 in a given year.” The report noted: “[F]atalities resulting from attacks by far right wing violent extremists have exceeded those caused by radical Islamist violent extremists in 10 of the 15 years, and were the same in 3 of the years since September 12, 2001. Of the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent).”.

(4) An unclassified May 2017 joint intelligence bulletin from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security found that “white supremacist extremism poses [a] persistent threat of lethal violence,” and that White supremacists “were responsible for 49 homicides in 26 attacks from 2000 to 2016 … more than any other domestic extremist movement”.

(5) Fatal terrorist attacks by far-right-wing extremists include—

(A) the August 5, 2012, mass shooting at a Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in which a White supremacist shot and killed 6 members of the gurdwara;

(B) the April 13, 2014, mass shooting at a Jewish community center and a Jewish assisted living facility in Overland Park, Kansas, in which a neo-Nazi shot and killed 3 civilians, including a 14-year-old teenager;

(C) the June 8, 2014, ambush in Las Vegas, Nevada, in which 2 supporters of the far-right-wing “patriot” movement shot and killed 2 police officers and a civilian;

(D) the June 17, 2015, mass shooting at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in which a White supremacist shot and killed 9 members of the church;

(E) the November 27, 2015, mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in which an anti-abortion extremist shot and killed a police officer and 2 civilians;

(F) the March 20, 2017, murder of an African-American man in New York City, allegedly committed by a White supremacist who reportedly traveled to New York “for the purpose of killing black men”;

(G) the May 26, 2017, attack in Portland, Oregon, in which a White supremacist allegedly murdered 2 men and injured a third after the men defended 2 young women whom the individual had targeted with anti-Muslim hate speech;

(H) the August 12, 2017, attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a White supremacist killed one and injured nineteen after driving his car through a crowd of individuals protesting a neo-Nazi rally, and of which former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “It does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute.”;

(I) the July 2018 murder of an African-American woman from Kansas City, Missouri, allegedly committed by a White supremacist who reportedly bragged about being a member of the Ku Klux Klan;

(J) the October 24, 2018, shooting in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, in which a White man allegedly murdered 2 African Americans at a grocery store after first attempting to enter a church with a predominantly African-American congregation during a service; and

(K) the October 27, 2018, mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in which a White nationalist allegedly shot and killed 11 members of the congregation.

(6) In November 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual hate crime incident report, which found that in 2017, hate crimes increased by approximately 17 percent, including a 23-percent increase in religion-based hate crimes, an 18-percent increase in race-based crimes, and a 5-percent increase in crimes directed against LGBT individuals. The total number of reported hate crimes rose for the third consecutive year. The previous year’s report found that in 2016, hate crimes increased by almost 5 percent, including a 19-percent rise in hate crimes against American Muslims; additionally, of the hate crimes motivated by religious bias in 2016, 53 percent were anti-Semitic. Similarly, the report analyzing 2015 data found that hate crimes increased by 6 percent that year. Much of the 2015 increase came from a 66-percent rise in attacks on American Muslims and a 9-percent rise in attacks on American Jews. In all three reports, race-based crimes were most numerous, and those crimes most often targeted African Americans.

(7) On March 15, 2019, a White nationalist was arrested and charged with murder after allegedly killing 50 Muslim worshippers and injuring more than 40 in a massacre at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand. The alleged shooter posted a hate-filled, xenophobic manifesto that detailed his White nationalist ideology before the massacre. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern labeled the massacre a terrorist attack.

(8) In January 2017, a right-wing extremist who had expressed anti-Muslim views was charged with murder for allegedly killing 6 people and injuring 19 in a shooting rampage at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada. It was the first-ever mass shooting at a mosque in North America, and Prime Minister Trudeau labeled it a terrorist attack.

(9) On February 15, 2019, Federal authorities arrested U.S. Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson, who was allegedly planning to kill a number of prominent journalists, professors, judges, and “leftists in general”. In court filings, prosecutors described Lieutenant Hasson as a “domestic terrorist” who in an email “identified himself as a White Nationalist for over 30 years and advocated for ‘focused violence’ in order to establish a white homeland.”.

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