A group leveraged Mother’s Day Sunday as a rallying theme for its opposition to last year’s landmark bail reform law that made nearly nine of 10 cases ineligible for bail.
The state law eliminated cash bail and pretrial detention for most misdemeanor and nonviolent felony charges.
In front of the state Capitol Sunday, the demonstration, “Tough as a Mother,” chose this particular holiday “because never before has our children’s futures, our communities’ safety and our mothers’ legacies been under attack than by the current governance of New York state,” event literature read.
It was organized by Abbey Ballard of Montgomery County, who began a public campaign against bail reform and other measures by the Democratic-run Legislature.
Noting that the state’s bail reform measure was being proposed by federal Democrat legislators, conservative activist Liz Joy of Amsterdam said mothers of the nation and New York were uniting in their collective concern.
”As women and mothers,” Joy said, “we have witnessed repeat violent offenders, sexual abusers, domestic violence abusers, horrifically violent gang members be purposely — purposely — released onto our streets, into our neighborhoods, affecting our children, our sons and our daughters.
“Due to this failed atrocity, titled ‘bail reform,’ violent offenders are now bolder, committing more atrocities, even returning to the scenes of their crimes to further cause terror to the victims and the families that they have targeted,” she continued.
During the sparsely attended event of less than two dozen attendees, Joy aimed a message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators:
“The moms are here. The moms have arrived, and you haven’t encountered anything like a fed up, angry mother. Because now we’re coming after all of you, Democrat legislators that passed this mess.”
Joy is making a second bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, for the state’s 20th congressional House seat, after losing to the veteran legislator in 2020.
She took the liberty to speak for mothers broadly when she said they do not want to defund police departments.
“We want more funding for our departments. We want more training for our departments. We want more education for our departments, and our law enforcement,” Joy said.
Ballard continued the criticism.
“When I read the bail reform, in all of its despicable, heinous, evil, gut-wrenching filth, I cried,” Ballard said.
The organizer then took several minutes reading dozens of examples of allegations that were not serious enough to warrant holding someone in custody prior to trial.
A greatly reduced list of crimes mentioned by Ballard included second-degree burglary of a residence, second-degree burglary as a hate crime, reckless assault of a child, stalking someone as a hate crime, multiple counts of vehicular assault, first-degree stalking while committing a sex offense, third-degree arson, killing a police dog or police horse, obstructing emergency medical services, obstructing governmental services with a bomb, unlawfully fleeing from a police officer in a vehicle, and multiple counts of conspiracy as a hate crime.
“How does that sit with everybody standing here,” Ballard asked.
Fulton County Sheriff Richard Giardino told the crowd he would try to give it some understanding “of the frauds” behind the reform.
A former judge who served in 16 counties statewide, Giardino said the bail reform movement was in regard to a misdemeanor defendant who committed suicide in Riker’s Island while being held on a misdemeanor charge for more than two years.
Giardino called it a tragic loss that illustrated too many mental health cases in the jails and prisons being used to house the mentally ill.
But as an impetus for this law, Giardino called it “a false narrative [to say] that this is happening all the time.”
Giardino then went on to defend law enforcement in the face of national unrest over cases of officers who have used deadly force against blacks, including the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year.
“Police officers that I’ve dealt with throughout the state, not only as a judge, but now as a sheriff, most of them that I know don’t view people by the color of their skin,” the sheriff suggested. “They view them as complainants, victims, witnesses, suspects and defendants. They don’t care about the color of the skin.”
This is clear because 911 dispatchers don’t ask callers for the victim’s race, the sheriff said.
“Remember this,” Giardino said. “We’re the only profession in this state, and the only profession in this country, that you throw bottles at us, you shoot bottle rockets, you try to ambush us in California and all over. You shoot police officers in their patrol cars. You call us racist. You say we get up in the morning wanting to shoot young black males. And then the next day you call 911. And we’re the only profession that goes, ‘We don’t care what color you are, we don’t care about your religion, your gender’ …”
In his wide-ranging remarks, Giardino addressed why 9% of the people arrested in Fulton County are Black, even though 2% of the county’s residents are Black.
The sheriff said a review of arrestees addresses indicates that most people of color who are arrested in the county have addresses outside of the county.
“So, it’s not like we’re arresting disproportionate numbers of our county,” he said of the topic that was reported on in Sunday’s Daily Gazette. “They’re coming into our county.”