If you spray water on a greasy flareup in your gas grill, you know what happens?
The flames get bigger.
You don’t even need gasoline; just water.
It doesn’t have to be the most explosive contributor that inflames a situation.
That summer grilling metaphor applies to the situation in Saratoga Springs, where both sides in the issue over police treatment of citizens, unruly behavior at the local bars, and the conduct of protesters is fueling even more conflict, when an easing of tensions is needed.
It’s not always the gasoline. Sometimes it’s just water.
Like when Assistant Police Chief John Catone made remarks a week or so ago following violence and crowd issues on Caroline Street in which he seemed to blame Black Lives Matter protesters for inspiring out-of-towners to commit crimes in the city and trying to bait the cops into looking like racists. He could have addressed the issue by calling for more police and even by expressing concern about outside gang violence.
But he got out the spray bottle and made matters worse.
But he’s not the only one. In response to his comments, BLM protesters first held a protest, then later tried to attend the City Council meeting that night. When they went to go into the meeting, they were directed to a side entrance near the Police Department. There the protesters encountered some police officers, who appeared to give them a hard time about getting into the meeting. Why?
During the meeting, as Rev. Joe Cleveland attempted to address Catone’s comments, some of his supporters vocally urged him on.
As they did, Mayor Meg Kelly flexed her authority by threatening to remove the supporters from the meeting, reminding them that the police were outside. When they refused to leave, she actually stopped a public meeting and walked out before resuming the meeting a few minutes later.
Is this the first meeting she’s attended where crowds have gotten a little loud supporting a speaker? She certainly didn’t have to go that far. Her actions made it appear as if she was singling out this particular group for discipline, lending credence to their claims that they were being discriminated against.
More water on the grease fire.
But let’s not put it all on government.
At that little encounter with police before the meeting, BLM leader Lexis Figuereo responded by calling one officer a “bootlicker” and telling him to commit a vulgar act, for which he would not apologize. Stick to the point. Sinking to that level of discourse only undercuts your valid criticisms and turns people against you.
None of these statements and actions were akin to throwing gasoline on a fire. Yet they served to make matters worse and drive the sides even further apart.
It’s in the best interests of all sides – especially the public’s – that they move toward more cooperation and agreement.
Stopping with all the little shots and digs and insults is one way to start.