I received the following comment from MLK Saratoga taking me to task for misrepresenting them in my recent post.
First let me say that I am a fan and supporter of MLK Saratoga. I applaud the work they have done in the struggle against racism and violence against people of color. I encourage my fellow Saratogians to support their work.
I also appreciate their willingness to engage on my website. The willingness of people of good faith to engage with each other over difficult issues appears to be endangered in the current environment which makes MLK Saratoga’s general work and the response to my post all the more laudatory.
The MLK Saratoga Comment
MLK Saratoga was not an organizer of last Saturday’s peaceful demonstration. Black Lives Matter Saratoga was the sole organizer. Some of our members attended and participated in the peaceful demonstration, fully supporting the intention to rally community support of the Mayor-appointed Police Reform Task Force’s 50-point Reinvention Plan. This post, including the graphic, is inaccurate and misleading. You call for dialogue yet posted false information without talking to MLK Saratoga.
Consistent with our mission, MLK Saratoga is engaged in dialogue – both publicly and behind the scenes. Most recently, we held public community forums in January during our annual Dr. King Celebration Weekend: one was “Police Reform in Saratoga Springs” with members of the Police Reform Task Force, and another was “Understanding How and Why We Protest” with area clergy, the Director of a Human Rights Commission, and social justice activists. We ended the weekend with a keynote (and community dialogue) by Loretta Ross, “Calling in the Cancel Culture.” If you had attended these forums and/or any of our events…or merely visited our website or Facebook page, you would not have posted this false information. Not only did you misrepresent MLK Saratoga, but you have whitewashed a Black-led event.
We call on you to engage in constructive community dialogue.
I offer the following as the source of my confusion over the role of MLK Saratoga in the recent protest. It has been my understanding that Holliday Hammond plays a leadership role in the organization. While the MLK website does not provide any information in the ABOUT page about the who is responsible for the site or who is in the leadership, Hollyday Hammond has spoken on a number of occasions on behalf of MLK Saratoga in the past. Ms. Hammond played a prominent role in the presentations made in Congress Park at the demonstration on Saturday, March 27, 2021. Working on these events takes more time than people can imagine and I have great respect for the work she has done. That and the prominence of the poster below at the event which I had understood to be a product of the work of MLK Saratoga in promoting the adoption of the police reform proposal led me to erroneously assume that MLK Saratoga played a role in the leadership of the demonstration.
Still, my confusion is no excuse for not having contacted MLK Saratoga to confirm their role. I would just note as an offer of constructive criticism, it would help if the group identified who is in the leadership of the organization and how to reach them. Even the email taking me to task is simply signed as from the organization.
Dialogue and Clarification
In the comment the author(s) wrote: “Not only did you misrepresent MLK Saratoga, but you have whitewashed a Black-led event.“ I am not clear as to what is meant by “…whitewashed a black-led event.” In the spirit of dialogue, it would be helpful if the author(s) would share with myself and the readers of this blog what is meant here.
Where Does MLK Saratoga Stand On The Issues Of Safety and Civil Disobedience?
The central point of my post was my concern over minimizing the risk to the participants in the demonstration, the bystanders, and the police. I continue to believe that coordinating protests with the police is imperative if we are to protect people. People marching in the street need protection from the danger of belligerent counter protesters and the risk of someone being hit by a motorist.
I also think that it is absolutely critical that, to the extent possible, people who wish to commit civil disobedience be trained. I should not need to argue this point with people following in the tradition of Martin Luther King. The Southern Leadership Christian Conference and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee were leaders in this country as regards training. They insured that those participating in their demonstrations were properly prepared. They knew that without training the arrest of demonstrators by police could descend into forms of resistance that jeopardized not only themselves but their comrades, bystanders, and the police.
When a group like MLK Saratoga encourages people to participate in a demonstration, I believe they take on the responsibility of insuring, to the extent possible, that the participants come to no harm. MLK Saratoga can use the respect they enjoy in our community to help protect people.
I respectfully ask that MLK Saratoga address my concern.
Does MLK Saratoga think that the March 28, 2021, demonstration should have been coordinated with the police?
In light of the fact that the demonstration took over the streets of Saratoga Springs without a permit or coordination with the police, it was an act of civil disobedience. Does MLK Saratoga think that training for the event was needed?
What role, if any, does Saratoga MLK have in minimizing the risk to demonstrators in actions that involve parades and sit down actions in intersections?
Should they be talking to the leadership of demonstrations such as the March 28 action to determine if proper preparation for safety has been planned for?
The Beginning Of A Dialogue
It is my hope that MLK Saratoga will continue this dialogue by responding to my questions. I know I have a lot to learn and I know that MLK Saratoga has a lot to offer. I expect others who follow this blog site can contribute as well.
I look forward to their response.