Saratoga Springs

Saratoga County DA drops last charge against Saratoga Springs BLM leader

This combined image shows Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen, left, and Saratoga Springs Black Lives Matter leader Lexis Figuereo.

This combined image shows Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen, left, and Saratoga Springs Black Lives Matter leader Lexis Figuereo.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen announced on Friday that her office would not pursue a violation charge against a Black Lives Matter leader “in the interest of justice.”

Lexis Figuereo was charged with disorderly conduct stemming from a July 14, 2021 protest in Saratoga Springs during which he allegedly blocked traffic. Figuereo has maintained that the charge is an attempt to silence his activism.

In a letter addressed to Saratoga Springs City Court Judge Francine Vero, Heggen said the disorderly conduct charge “is supported by considerable video, photographic and eyewitness evidence,” but said her office would not pursue the case after the court dismissed the same charge against activist and Schenectady school board member Jamaica Miles earlier this year.

“This court recently dismissed the case against another participant in the July 14, 2021 incident in the interest of justice,” the letter reads. “Given the court’s reasoning and decision in that case, we anticipate similar relief is likely in this case. Therefore, my office has determined that the continued prosecution of this disorderly conduct charge does not serve the interest of justice and by this letter we are requesting that the courts dismiss that charge in the interest of justice.”

News of the dismissal comes a week after Vero dismissed a pair of misdemeanor charges against Figuereo on April 15 for obstruction of governmental administration for alleged conduct during Saratoga Springs City Council meetings last year. 

Heggen, in her letter, said her office learned that “a larger investigation by an outside agency” into Figuereo predates the July 14, 2021 incident and pursuing the non-criminal charge would interfere in that investigation.

“It is our further belief that the continued prosecution of the non-criminal disorderly conduct violation may interfere with that larger investigation,” the letter reads.

Mark Mishler, an attorney for Figuereo, in a statement posted to social media, said the dismissal is a victory for his client and Saratoga BLM, but noted questions still surround “the unconstitutional actions of the SSPD.” 

He again raised concerns that Saratoga Springs police were working with the FBI to investigate Saratoga BLM.

“People have the constitutionally protected right to protest without being targeted and threatened by law enforcement,” Mishler said. “Now, because the Saratoga DA and the SSPD realized they could not proceed, the DA has agreed that all the charges be dismissed.”

Figuereo was one of a dozen individuals arrested in connection to the July 14 event, with most facing minor charges. The arrests came a day after the Saratoga Race Course closed for the season, drawing suspicions from activists. 

Several of those arrested were detained for extended periods and were arraigned in shackles despite facing only violation charges.

The Saratoga Springs Police Department would later deny entry to a group of demonstrators seeking to attend the arraignments, a move that police Chief Shane Crooks would apologize for, citing a miscommunication.

In November, the state’s Attorney General’s Office announced it was investigating alleged civil rights violations by Saratoga Springs police. 

In a statement posted to social media, Figuereo repeated that the charges against him were an attempt to silence him and that he plans to continue his activism with Saratoga Blacks Lives Matter.

“Everyone has a right to protest, a right to speak at city council meetings and a right to voice their grievances against local law enforcement,” Figuereo said. “This is a win for not only me and Saratoga BLM, but for our community as a whole.”

Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.  

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