On Tuesday night, July 20, 2021, members of the local Black Lives Matter group disrupted the City Council meeting. The public comment period devolved into chaos as BLM people shouted down members of the Council.
The following are some excerpts from the meeting:
In this clip, Alexus Brown confronted the Council over an incident in which Saratoga Springs Police stopped a car she and a friend were driving following the July 14 demonstration.
As background, the public comment period restricts comments to two minutes. Ms. Brown ignored the limit and continued her statement as she described her encounter.
In this video Lexis Figuereo reads a comment from Facebook which he alleged came from the Facebook page “Moving Saratoga Forward.” The comment is virulently racist. Figuereo also alleged in his remarks that Rob Arrigo, chairman of the local Libertarian Party, is behind this and that members of the Council are his allies.
The fact is that the comment did not come from “Moving Saratoga Forward” (MSF)but instead came from the Facebook page of Figuereo’s own Black Lives Matter group. Council members have no connection to MSF.
This is the BLM Facebook page (link to actual page):
I spoke to Mr. Arrigo about the Silverstein comment. He told me that the Silverstein comment was “absolutely abhorrent” and that he would never be associated with such a vile statement.
The Silverstein statement’s origins are suspicious. Her Facebook page appears to have been created by a hacker.
It is also more than odd that her comment includes an attack on the Adirondack Trust Company. Adirondack Trust was recently fined by the New York State Financial Services Department over discrimination in auto underwriting. In her comment Silverstein alleges that Adirondack Trust consciously exploited people of color.
The story is a little more nuanced. NYSFSD charged that auto dealerships overcharged their victims on loans provided to the dealers by Adirondack Trust. They fined Adirondack Trust for not properly monitoring its loans to avoid theses abuses.
According to the Times Union story, “Under fair lending laws, DFS said, the bank was responsible for monitoring these loans and helping to ensure that minorities were not suffering discrimination.” The TU story is worth reading because of how the violations were discovered. DFS used statistical analysis and modeling to uncover the pattern.
It seems reasonable to ask, if the mysterious Ms. Silverstein was motivated by hatred of people of color why would she go out of her way to throw the Adirondack Trust under the bus for discrimination?
The origins of the Silverstein comment on the BLM site seem more than suspicious.
In the following video Mr. Figuereo offers a reflection on how rage is a positive force that should be embraced.
While successful social movements in history have their roots in the rage that social injustice engenders, it is the harnessing of that anger into disciplined and thoughtful organized actions that has brought about real change.
The writings of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King reflect their outrage against injustice, but both men make absolutely clear that indulging their visceral anger is an expense that neither of them could afford.
Both men showed great skill in expanding their base while holding to their principles. The BLM group appears to have squandered much of the goodwill they originally enjoyed and appear to be increasingly isolated in this city.
With respect to Mr. Figuereo and other leaders in his group, it appears clear that their intemperate and incessant outbursts are not part of some carefully, thought out strategy to bring about change but are instead the unrestrained expressions of their rage against people they see as their enemies.
I fear that such a mindless non-strategy will eventually lead to disaster for themselves and those they lead.
Commissioner Robin Dalton
In this video Commissioner Robin Dalton attempts to respond to the criticisms made during the public comment period. It is during this segment of the Council meeting that things really went off the rails. Commissioner Dalton is basically shouted down and the meeting is temporarily recessed.
Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan
Following the recess, Commissioner Madigan tried to acknowledge the demands of the BLM group and suggest a way forward. As documented in an earlier blog, Commissioner Madigan met with the BLM leadership last year, but her attempt to address their concerns became mired in poisonous insults from Lexis Figuereo and went nowhere.
It is a testament to Commissioner Madigan’s desire to somehow find common ground in spite of the past episode that she sought to advocate for a mediated meeting between the Council and BLM.
Commissioner Dalton also offered her willingness to meet. She described how she had tried repeatedly unsuccessfully to meet with BLM.
Rather than embrace and support Madigan’s and Dalton’s offers, the meeting descends into total chaos with shouts that include personal attacks on both Commissioners Madigan and Dalton. The Council was unable to transact business and the police came in and cleared the public from the room.
Grim… so grim.