Chalking protesters’ cases headed for dismissal

Activist Mikayla Foster stands in front of the Schenectady police station on April 23.

Activist Mikayla Foster stands in front of the Schenectady police station on April 23.

SCHENECTADY – Cases against two protesters who allegedly chalked Schenectady police headquarters, prompting the Police Department to put temporary fencing around the building’s entrance in April, have been conditionally resolved.

A court clerk said cases against Mikayla Foster, 22, and Kasey Charles, 26, were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal on June 9.

Foster and Charles’ records will be sealed in December if the city residents aren’t arrested in the next six months, the clerk said.

The two had been charged with third-degree criminal tampering, a Class B misdemeanor, in connection with an April 13 protest outside the police station.

Class B misdemeanors are punishable by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine.  

Foster and Charles were taken into custody by Schenectady police after they were arrested at an Albany Black Lives Matter protest encampment. Albany police alerted Schenectady police they were holding the pair because outstanding arrest warrants were issued in Schenectady. 

The arrest warrants were issued after video evidence showed Foster and Charles were involved in the incident that led to both damage and tampering with city property at 531 Liberty St. on April 13, police said.

The protest in Schenectady, as well as the Albany protest that started the next day, concerned the police shooting death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, in Minnesota.

During the protest and chalking incident, a glass panel on a door at the Schenectady station was broken.

Some of the chalk-written messages read: “We won’t forget,” “Stop killing us,” “Blood is on your hands,” and “Cops and klan are hand-in-hand.”

During a press conference after their arrests, Foster said:

“If we are arresting peaceful protesters for putting washable chalk on a building meant to serve the community, then I don’t know what to say.”

An effort to reach Foster Thursday was unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, the temporary fencing around the Police Department was removed last week.

The fence wasn’t intended to remain long term, Police Chief Eric Clifford said, although police are working with the city engineer on a redesign of the front of the building.

In addition to the vandalism, the chief said the fence was put up due to possible unrest concerning the homicide trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was accused of killing George Floyd by placing his knee on the Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020.

“I decided to take [the fence] down since the trial did not result in any unrest and we had a period of a couple of weeks with no unrest,” Clifford said.

“For the record, I am not against peaceful protests,” he said. “My preference is that those who protest request to meet to discuss their grievances – if the protest is connected to policing.”

The decision to remove the fence, he said, “was unrelated to the disposition of the court proceedings. That played no role, although I am satisfied that the timing is close and that incident is now behind us.”

Categories: News, Schenectady County

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