SARATOGA SPRINGS — Black Lives Matter activists and their supporters told the departing city council members just how little they would miss them during Tuesday night’s meeting.
Mayor Meg Kelly and commissioners John Franck, Michele Madigan and Robin Dalton are in their final days as they yield to newly-elected Democrats.
The activists’ criticism was directed at Kelly, Madigan and Dalton.
The meeting got off to a hostile start when BLM supporter Angela Kaufman tried to present the mayor with a container of cockroaches.
“I was at the pet store the other day buying gifts for my boys when I found the perfect gift for a mayor who appears to not be able to tell the difference between activists and cockroaches,” Kaufman told Kelly, who didn’t accept the “gift.”
BLM activist Samira Sangare of Clifton Park read a timeline of activists’ interactions with local police for which she said the council provided no accountability.
It began with a July 30 protest during which activists were met by state police, sheriff’s deputies and city police in riot gear, along with a military vehicle, she said. Pepper bullets were shot at the activists.
“June 28, 2021,” Sangare said. “[Assistant Police Chief John] Cantone and Robbins sat side by side, fear-mongering, and blamed us for fights on Caroline Street.”
During the council meeting that followed those events, Sangare said, Kelly threatened to have the group arrested for being disagreeable during the meeting.
At one point, Madigan told the speaker that the activists should have accepted her invitation to meet.
“You never cared about us. You never cared about the community,” Sangare replied. “You never cared about Darryl Mount.”
Activists have been protesting on behalf of Mount, a biracial man who was pursued by police in 2013 for an alleged domestic dispute. Authorities say Mount fell from scaffolding during the incident. He eventually died in 2014, after nine months in a coma. Protesters contend police beat him to his death.
Referencing the state Attorney General’s office investigation of city police — to assess whether protesters were targeted with excessive force and retaliatory arrests — Sangare told the councilors, “I can’t wait for all the lawsuits that come your way.”
Madigan, when referencing incoming Democratic officials, expressed with apparent sarcasm her relief that the new city council members would diversify city staffing through their appointments. She indicated that it would soon be revealed that the incoming council members hadn’t chosen a diverse group of staffers.
At one point during the meeting, in an attempt to demonstrate that the activists shouldn’t be treated like “crap,” BLM activist Lexis Figuereo revealed that his sister is a caretaker for the mayor’s sister.
Kelly, who said her sister is disabled, said she didn’t appreciate Figuereo bringing that up, asserting, “You have a hell of a nerve.” She added, “That’s the lowest blow that you can give anybody.”
The mother of Figuereo’s two young children, Gabrielle C. Elliott, also played a recording of her interaction with police on Sept. 7. Elliott was arrested outside of the police station on charges of attempted assault, resisting arrest and endangering the welfare of a child. She was present that day to support her husband, who faced warrant charges from a previous protest.
The charges against Elliott were recently adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, but Elliott said she was still angered by the council’s lack of accountability for the police separating her from her 6-year-old son and then-1-year-old daughter.
“Your lies, your manipulation, have resulted in more trauma on all of us — more than you will ever realize,” Elliott said.
She went on to tell the departing council members not to “let the door hit your a– on the way out.”
Figuereo then brought up that Madigan’s 18-year-old son had been arrested for an alleged assault and robbery earlier this year.
“I haven’t heard much about her son in the news,” the activist cracked. “I’m pretty sure he’s facing a felony.”
Madigan said to the activist, “Don’t bring up my family.”
Figuereo, a local bartender, asserted that he knows Madigan from frequenting “the cocktail lounge.”
An emotional Madigan replied, “You people are abusive.”
Dalton, reflecting on what she also said was abuse, told a reporter that she wouldn’t advise anyone she cared about to run for the city council here.
Contact reporter Brian Lee at [email protected] or 518-419-9766.