SCHENECTADY – Fallout from a community event in which Black Lives Matters activists confronted police took another turn during this week’s City Council meeting.
It was when a woman blasted NAACP organizations in the Capital Region and the New York Civil Liberties Union for, in her words, painting the BLM activists as victims of trumped-up police action when the demonstrators “traumatized” her 7-year-old son during the Aug. 26 community event.
Speaking during Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Vivian Parsons said the activists scared her son when they called her a “bitch,” “white trash,” “expletive] honkey” and “predator.”
Parsons is biracial.
As a result of their alleged actions, two BLM activists turned themselves in on police charges of endangering the welfare of a child and disorderly conduct.
The court action that occurred a month after the event led to accusations within the community that Schenectady police had engaged in a regionwide effort by law enforcement to silence BLM activists.
According to the police report, the endangerment charges against the two activists were a result of the young child being “traumatized during the incident, and his mother left due to concern for their safety.”
Earlier this week, presidents of four chapters of the NAACP in the Capital Region, including the Schenectady branch’s, co-wrote a letter published in the Times Union of Albany that read, in part:
“The Schenectady police ‘after the fact’ warrants recently unearthed are nothing short of harassment to silence the voices of dissatisfied residents.”
During Tuesday’s meeting, Parsons took aim at the letter by asserting that it sought to “invalidate the complaints of local citizens, which is, ironically, the very thing that they have hypocritically accused the Police Department of doing.”
Parsons went on to say that she would no longer stand back and listen to “self-proclaimed community activists completely ignore the fear and distress” of her son and other children that day.
She then accused local media, the NAACP, the NYCLU and certain locally elected officials of seemingly “going the extra mile to not even feign an interest in how these actions negatively impacted children.”
Parsons said the NAACP and NYCLU’s criticism of the charges were “tantamount to complicity and indifference” to the trauma inflicted on her son.
“You should know that according to some local activists if you’re white you don’t matter, if you’re in a crowd while having racial slurs and obscenities hurled at you while being filmed on Facebook Live, that’s just a sacrifice the local NAACP is going to make because this is how we fight for the advancement of colored people,” she said with sarcasm.
“Much to the chagrin of the local NAACP and even some local activists in this room,” she continued, “you do not get to determine which citizen complaints are worthy of police actions and which ones are not. It is the victims and the penal code that makes this determination, not you, or your politics.”
Rev. Nicolle Harris, president of the Schenectady branch of the NAACP, did not respond to a message Wednesday seeking comment.
In an interview, Melanie Trimble, regional director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, wondered aloud what her agency’s political motivation would have been in advocating for the BLM activists.
“This is the world of America,” Trimble said. “We don’t live in a society that oppresses human expression, and it’s public space. Yes, obnoxious things can be said. Yes, offensive things can be said. But that’s the American way. You get to vent in public if you want.”
Trimble went on to say that movements can be uncomfortable.
“I’m not going to speak for Black Lives Matters,” she said, “but there are lots of examples where public discourse has been suppressed by police, and we believe that it’s politically motivated, too, because they’re coming down harder on people because they’re being criticized.
“That’s not what police are supposed to do,” she said. “They’re supposed to protect your ability to speak, even if it’s not in favor of the police.”
Shawn Young, a co-founder of All of Us, made similar remarks during the meeting while noting the lack of concern Parsons demonstrated when Parsons quoted the BLM activists’ profanities verbatim during the council meeting while two young children were seated next to her.
Young, who was not at the Aug. 26 community event, said: “No one in this fight is perfect in any way, and we are out there just simply addressing what we feel is a problem, a systemic one, that we all are aware of.”
The BLM protesters converged on the community event to decry, among other things, the death of Andrew Kearse while in police custody in 2017.
A Schenectady County grand jury cleared a city patrolman of criminal wrongdoing in the cardiac-related death of Kearse, 36, after a special prosecutor examined the encounter between Kearse and Schenectady police.
The protesters contend Kearse and his family did not receive justice.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.