A Kind Of Lynch Mob At Skidmore College

In a troubling development, a recent graduate of Skidmore College is organizing a campaign to fire two faculty members for attending the Back the Blue rally. The letter this recent student is circulating has many highly inflammatory statements that are demonstrably false.

Please note that I have redacted both the names of the faculty members and the name of the person promoting the firing. I redacted the names of the faculty because I did not want to see them subjected to anymore abuse than they are already experiencing. I redacted the student’s name because I would like to think that their misrepresentations were the result of immaturity rather than malice.

This is the letter being circulated:

These are graphics they have posted on the web as part of their campaign.

The following are excerpts from their letter along with my commentary.


From the letter:

“…it is unacceptable for faculty members…to publicly voice their support for a hateful cause that directly challenges the right of black students to exist, live, and breath in America.”

Letter

The following is from the Back the Blue Facebook page soliciting public participation in their event.

We want to humanize these officers and remind people they are spouses, children, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors, etc.

Things to Bring: Signs of support, Blue Line flags, your friends and family that are pro police. Kids are welcome as this is a family friendly event.

Things to leave at home: Any political signs, flags, etc. We want to keep this a positive, all inclusive event and do not want this to turn political or negative in any way. This is a peaceful, purely pro-police event. We hope to see you there!Please practice social distancing and wear masks when not possible. Thank you!

From Back The Blue Facebook Page

Conspicuously absent from this Back the Blue text is any reference to Black Lives Matter. It is clearly evident that the organizers of this event went out of their way to make the focus on “purely” supporting the police.

I have a dear friend who attended the Back the Blue demonstration who did so to support relatives who are police officers who share her anger over racism in America and who were appalled by the killing of George Floyd.

The idea that the attendance of faculty at the Back The Blue rally is proof that they oppose the right of people of color to live is just stunning. It is hyperbole on steroids.

That is not to say that other people who attended the event may not have had other agendas but to reduce the event to a campaign for the extermination of people of color in our country is itself rather scary.


But the Saratoga Springs Police stood with their back (SIC) to the white supremacist, alt-right, counter protesters and faced us, as if defending them and looking for potential attacks from us.

From the letter

Back the Blue had arranged for their march and rally with the Saratoga Springs Police. The All of Us group simply announced over social media that they were organizing a counter demonstration and showed up. It is not surprising that the police were deployed around the sanctioned event.

Meanwhile, our side of the protest wore masks, while the anti-Black lives side was mostly mask free, a potential threat to our lives.

From the letter

Whatever threat that the maskless Back the Blue demonstrators may represent to each other and to the police protecting them, in the video they are more than six feet away from All of Us.

After defending the white supremacist until they got bored and went home, the Saratoga Police donned riot gear, camo, and army fatigues, and brought a tank into downtown Saratoga Springs.

From the letter

Repeating myself, the Back the Blue group may very well have had white supremacists among them but characterizing the group as a white supremacist gathering is a reckless exaggeration.

More specifically, the law enforcement officers wearing military type gear were with the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department. They were dressed this way during the entire evening. All of the Saratoga Springs Police were dressed as they would normally. They did not gear up following the Back the Blue event.

The vehicle was deployed by the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department. Not to put to fine a point on it, it was not a tank but an armored personnel carrier. A tank has a cannon and machine guns and this armored personnel carrier did not. I have in previous posts expressed that I think the deployment of this vehicle was unnecessarily provocative.

It is a mis-characterization that the Back the Blue people went home because they were bored. They had previously reached an agreement with the police on the schedule of their event which included ending before dark.

Officers…pointed loaded, automatic weapons, at a group of about fifty unarmed protesters…

From the letter

Of all the misrepresentations in this letter, this is the most reckless. It is hard to be temperate in writing about this claim. Based on the extensive video, there were no automatic weapons in evidence at the event. The idea, as put forward by this letter, that there were such weapons present and that they were aimed at All of Us is inexcusable. Bear in mind that the Saratoga Springs Lieutenant managing the event was continually among the demonstrators reflecting the non-threatening effort put forward by the Saratoga Springs Police. If automatic weapons fire had been employed by the police, he would have been among the first casualties.

Protecting Academic Freedom

Institutions like Skidmore College have processes for addressing behavior by faculty members that is deemed to be materially destructive to individual students.

To characterize the participation of the two faculty members in the Back the Blue event as proof that they are an actual threat to students of color is abhorrent and reminiscent of Joe McCarthy’s reign of terror against people on the American left in the 1950’s.

I have to wonder whether the new President of Skidmore College, Dr. Marc C. Connor, will have the courage to come to the aid of these two faculty members who will now be the target of a general campaign to shame and humiliate them. In an age of “cancel culture” one would hope that President Connor would see the need to address this ugly business by countering this campaign of disinformation using the best of the academy to both correct the record and to reaffirm that faculty are not fired based on holding opinions that may not be popular.

JK:Addendum

Someone identified as bokk_choi posted an entry shown in this blog which states “…in attendance today at the blue lives matter (white supremacy protest) were…..Firemen who drove alongside blue lives matter protesters in their fire trucks…” I had not seen fire trucks in any of the videos but checked with Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton who confirmed that the only fire truck on the streets that night was one returning to the station from a call.

17 thoughts on “A Kind Of Lynch Mob At Skidmore College”

  1. Given the amount of disinformation spread by some of the Skidmore faculty members who have been involved in local politics, it is not surprising to see their students model their behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I am not happy that my city is being smeared by this group. Cuomo has given every community a home work assignment to review the police – community relations. I think we should be onto the next stage and “discussing” what, if any thing needs to be changed. Not being judged by a set of “demands” from outsiders.

    Did I not hear that we haven’t had a Police shooting their weapon since 1997? I think that ALL OF US can spend their time on the TROY- SCHENECTADY- ALBANY triangle based on upswing of shootings.. Can anyone understand why Saratoga Springs is targeted in this protest?

    So apparently I am a Neo Nazi – White guy – that attended the Back the Blue rally. I happen to pay taxes and I should have as much “Say” about our Police than people that don’t even live here… I am normally a pretty tolerant person…being shuttered in place has shorten my and I assume many other people fuses. I spent my own money to put up a Banner for the Police by the back of City Hall (not the front) back where the police are parking or have their cruisers located… It was just a positive message to be careful and get home safe… the City Officials had the Police take it down the next day. So being “positive” is canceled because City Officials don’t want to upset the BLM/ALL of US folks…they did take down the TIZ THE LAW on street signs…but this was on abandon sign posts off the sidewalk.

    So being of an age when Hill Street Blues was popular…

    “Let’s be careful out there…” – Stay focused on the Task.
    Protecting the Public from themselves at your own peril.
    Safe Shift and just get home to your family that needs you.
    RESPECTFULLY, “the Rest of Us”

    So this is the Cancel Culture… you don’t agree with me, so I will destroy you… that is an UGLY human being regardless of their race.
    This is what is being taught in colleges – Tyranny? Sorry that is history, we are destroying that too.

    I guess I have a problem….- I will try to be more civil next time.

    PS – the police asked to retain the banner and have it in their own space.. so that is a positive in the Sea of Negativity the Police have to deal with daily.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The Skidmore graduate’s letter was disturbing in general but I found one very long sentence particularly offensive.

    “But while differing opinions are valid, it is unacceptable for faculty members, who are in a position of power over Black students, to publicly voice their support for a hateful cause that directly challenges the right of Black students to exist, live, and breathe in America.’

    I continue to question why Back the Blue came to Saratoga Springs in the first place. There is little evidence of any level of distain for the SSPD. Most members of this community respect and appreciate our police. Their demonstration served as the catalyst for what developed into a very difficult evening for all. It would have been better if they had stayed home.

    However, this outrageous letter to the president of Skidmore should offend our both police and our citizens. Back the Blue is NOT a hateful cause. Police departments operate 24/7 to protect and serve their communities. Our department is very busy. Given all that they encounter on a daily basis, it should be comforting to know that there are very few incidents of less than professional conduct on the part of the men and women of the SSPD. By publicly showing support for our police, the Back the Blue group is merely trying to protect a reputation that they see as being wrongly tarnished. There is no basis to suggest that Back the Blue or the SSPD challenges the right of Black students to exist, live and breathe.

    I had the unique opportunity and privilege to be the person responsible for the actions of the Saratoga Springs Police Department for six years. We had an open door policy and we aggressively sought input from the community. With two exceptions, there were no serious transgressions on the part of our police. We seldom received anything but praise for their work. In those six years, the only incident that involved charges of racism had absolutely nothing to do with racism. The overwhelming majority of police officers are bright, young men and women, most with bachelors degrees, who are carefully screened for any hint of prejudice and who are continually re-trained to foster optimal community relations. I am offended by the personal attacks on our police and on the Public Safety Commissioner. The Skidmore graduate’s letter reflects poorly on this Skidmore graduate.

    Chris Mathiesen

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Chris,
      I agree with your statement regarding the offensive sentence in the Skidmore graduate’s letter. Being the sister of 6 law enforcement officers (all IN NYC), attending the Blue Lives rally in Saratoga was an opportunity to support them, as well as LO all over the country who have been treated horribly during the last few months. The rally was organized, had permits, and was peaceful. There was never any mention of Black Lives Matter, or any other group- only support for law enforcement. During this peaceful rally, a group of counter protesters arrived, antagonizing supporters of the rally. This is why I find a statement that you made offensive “ Their demonstration served as the catalyst for what developed into a very difficult evening for all. It would have been better if they had stayed home.“ I don’t believe anyone should have to “stay home” and be silent simply because another group may not agree with your cause. There have been numerous rally’s supporting black lives in Saratoga. They have been peaceful , without any counter protests. Why then, should supporters of law enforcement “stay home” ? The only intention of those attending was support of LO – not just those in Saratoga, but across the country. The only reason it “ developed into a very difficult situation for all” is because that was the sole intent of the counter protest group. I will not “stay home” and be silent because that is exactly what they want. I will always support and speak out for the amazing men and women of our country who put their lives on the line for our safety. It saddens me to know that someone who served PD for 6 years would think otherwise.

      Like

      1. Anne,

        I understand the reason for the Back the Blue demonstration. Given the fact that the majority of citizens in general and Saratogians in particular continue to support and appreciate the police, I don’t think that it was necessary. Police understand better than most the importance of at times not responding. Timing is everything. This wasn’t a good time to demonstrate for the police because it comes across as insensitive to the validity of the complaints about recent incidents. Black lives do matter. There are concerns that need to be heard. At this point in time, we can all learn by listening, not demonstrating.

        We went through anti-police and anti-Commissioner Mathiesen demonstrations in the past. The best strategy in such an environment is to be honest, open and consistent.

        Chris Mathiesen

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  4. So how much do I need to pay in tuition for my kid to graduate and write something like that?? That letter is truly disturbing. Skidmore, something has gone seriously amiss if that is the kind of mind you are molding. I believe their new president just started, it will be interesting to see how he navigates this..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am saddened by the letter sent by the recent Skidmore graduate to the Skidmore Administration. Skidmore’s motto is “Creative Thought Matters,” but this letter is not creative or thoughtful. My hope would be that graduates would come away with an understanding of thoughtful, calm, and rational dialog. This smacks more of McCarthyism from the left – fire those who disagree! By the author’s statement, professors can only have opinions that conform to hers.

    A follow up post by a bokk_choi went even further stating, “They marched against Black lives and supporting the fascist, violent actions of the Saratoga Police Dept. SEND AN EMAIL TO PREZ CONNOR TONIGHT DEMANDING THEIR IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL FROM SKIDMORE COLLEGE.”

    Are there serious problems that need to resolved – of course. But, this intolerance should never come from students of a good liberal arts institution! If we follow their logic that freedom of speech is forbidden of professors supporting the Blue Line, then professors should also not be allowed to support Black Lives Matters.

    Like

    1. Not sure if Skidmore has a code of conduct for their students but you think the school’s President should call these students in for a dressing down or better yet expulsion from the Skidmore?
      Some “Actions” have to have some consequences … like the good ole days.

      Like

    2. As an alumni, I am disturbed by this recent graduates letter. She claims to be proud of her critical thought, but shows no evidence of it. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. This champion of free thinking needs to support ridiculous and dangerous statements that the police are a “hate group” and that everyone supporting them are “white supremacists. Sorry recent Grad, you get an F in critical thinking, an A+ in group think and claimed victimhood. Good luck in the read world. Your parents wasted a lot of tuition money.

      Like

  6. As a Skidmore graduate myself (though not recent) I am embarrassed by the recent behavior of Skidmore students and comments they have made both at the recent City Council meeting and now what I have read on this blog. Their continued indifference to speaking the truth is appalling and inexcusable and not what I would expect from graduates of my alma mater.
    Having said that, I have to admit I was in a way somewhat amused by the comments of Molly and Mack , (who for some reason put up their comments on the “Night of Drama…” blog post) Skidmore students who, having been indifferent to the effects of their attacks on the privacy and safety of Skidmore faculty members, now complain that they think their privacy and safety have somehow been jeopardized by the blogger. (BTW, kids, your stuff already appeared on another blog last week.) They of all people know they gave up any expectation of privacy when they initiated a vicious social media campaign against two faculty members and posted it on a public forum on Instagram. They apparently had no concern for the privacy and safety of the two individuals they chose to attack for, of all things, attending a peaceful and legal event. This when the students themselves had participated in an illegal and deliberately disruptive event which actually did put themselves and others in danger.
    Mr. Kaufmann’s intent in redacting the name of the letter writer calling for the firing of the two Skidmore faculty members was not to protect this person’s privacy, which had already been blown by they themselves, but rather a kind of sweet gesture to protect the student from themselves thinking they actually might be embarrassed by what they had written. Not so.
    One can only hope that these students will some day recognize that by attempting to harm others by employing lies, they have only damaged themselves. That day cannot come soon enough.

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  7. A commenter above asserted that there is very little evidence of lack of police support in Saratoga Springs. Saratoga is a 92% white town with, as a result, very few complaints about race-based police misconduct. I can’t quite see the reasoning behind instigating a pro-police rally during a time when the police (as a broader institution) are coming under fire for institutional racism and discriminatory practices, other than to insight further discord. People attending pro-police marches as opposed to pro-Black lives marches at this moment in history is, at the very least, distasteful if not downright racist. I agree that firing people for holding different beliefs is counterproductive- however, the Skidmore art department currently employs zero Black professors and has never tenured a Black professor before, so perhaps the college should consider reallocating resources to prioritize DEI rather than continue to support white folks who love cops.

    Like

    1. I am going to try this… look up “empathy” – Now imagine IF, your Dad or Mom was a police officer… How do you think you would feel with all this HATE being directed at your parent or Spouse? Maybe if you can get your little mind around that point you can understand the “why”. Ours and many other communities wanted to show that these civil servants that put themselves in danger (everyday mind you) that they are appreciated. That isn’t ANTI Black, that is just being Pro Human – if you would stop for a moment and think – they are just PEOPLE doing a dangerous job. So remember the word – EMPATHY.

      As for the make up of the ART Dept… how many teaching faculty are there? So exactly what does quotas get you? How many minority Asian – Indian – Hispanic – Samoans etc …Art instructors are there, at the end of the day does race that make anyone a better or worse teacher? Are you also saying that if you had a Black instructor that your world would be better – I would hope more for inspiring and challenging mentors, no matter their race.

      I guess that Skidmore has problems recruiting to such a racist area of NY State or its our COLD Winters .

      JK – I am trying to be more civil…

      Like

    2. “ People attending pro-police marches as opposed to pro-Black lives marches at this moment in history is, at the very least, distasteful if not downright racist.”

      Translation: ‘People with different political opinions than me at this moment in history are distasteful if not downright racist. Everyone that disagrees with me is racist.’

      Like

  8. At various times on 7/30, the BLM/All of Us protestors chanted:

    “How do you spell murderer? SSPD!!”
    “Down on the street, fuck the police, no justice, no peace!!”

    At a prior BLM/All of Us event, the BLM/All of Us protestors marched down Broadway chanting, “Fuck the police!!””

    So, contrary to some of the prior comments, there is demonstrable proof of some level of anti-SSPD sentiment in Saratoga Springs. I don’t know to what degree Saratoga Springs residents are anti-police, but those who are are loud and vocal about letting everyone know what they think.

    The Back the Blue Rally was staged as a positive event to show that that there are many people that don’t agree with the “SSPD as murders“ narrative put forward by BLM/All of Us. . The Back the Blue people simply wanted to show support for their friends, family, neighbors, and community members working in law-enforcement. Not everyone hates the police; that was the sole purpose of the rally.

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  9. I keep waiting for some sort of eloquent or coherent speech that is representative of this movement and is also based in a local frame of reference. I have observed several of these local rallies from a distance. Instead, we get what I would call ‘deranged chanting’ and race baiting. It reminds me of the opening sequence to the novel/movie “The Road”. The Skidmore students are all nice young people who have a lot of maturing to do. I recommend they read ‘Geodestinies’ by Walter Youngquist and some works by Geert Hofestade.

    Like

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