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Spa City community gathers again to talk about racism

Spa City community gathers again to talk about racism

A second community forum was held at Presbyterian New England Congregational Church
Spa City community gathers again to talk about racism
Carol Dagg speaks about racism during a discussion at Presbyterian New England Congregational Church in Saratoga on Thursday.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Resident Carol Daggs said while she hasn't experienced another incident of harassment since the community gathered two weeks ago to discuss how to combat racist events in the city, she's not convinced it won't happen again. 

"I can't breathe a sigh of relief," she said. "I don't know what the motive is."

The lifelong Saratoga Springs resident was driving on July 30 with her elderly mother when a man in a black Chevrolet pickup truck started cursing at her at the corner of Lincoln and Vanderbilt avenues.

Daggs also learned that fellow Spa City resident Henrietta Jackson, both of whom are African-American, had also been harassed by the same man while sitting on a neighbor's porch on Doten Avenue, near the Saratoga Casino Hotel. 

Jackson said she was sitting on a neighbor's porch when the man slowed down and stopped before shouting the "n-word" and giving her the middle finger. 

The women's experiences spurred a community forum that was held on Aug. 3 at Presbyterian New England Congregational Church. 

The community gathered for the second time on Thursday at the church to further discuss how to address racism in the city. 

"Thank you to everyone who has demonstrated a show of care and concern," Daggs said to the 20 attendees. "It really does make a difference when you feel like your community is responding."

Saratoga Springs Police Lt. Shane Crooks said no incidents have been reported to the department since the Aug. 3 meeting. 

"We've had no other dealings with the suspect," he said of the driver of the black Chevrolet pickup truck. 

Crooks said calling people names is not unlawful, as harassment under the state penal law is considered a push, shove or strike. 

"Our hands are tied by the law," he said. "You can call people names, chant or yell as long as there isn't a threat being made."

Crooks encouraged residents to call the department whenever an incident occurs. 

"If something happens, we'll send someone over and see what we can do," he said. "Not everyone calls every time something happens, and if they don't there's no way of knowing what's going on."

While Crooks said racist incidents in the city aren't common, they do happen. 

In February, several city residents found fliers on their cars inviting them to join the Loyal White Knights, an active faction of the Ku Klux Klan, which has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. 

MaryAnn Holohean said the Saratoga Springs community was much more diverse before she moved away from the city 50 years ago. 

"I'm finding that there is more racism in the city now that I've come back," she said. "This kind of community response is important, because it seems like there are young, white males out there who feel that this behavior is acceptable in our community.

"We need to show them that it isn't."

The group is meeting again on at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 21, to view Spike Lee's film, "BlacKkKlansman," at Bow-Tie Cinemas at 19 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs. A group discussion is scheduled for after the film. 

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