Below is a release from the Police Department regarding Tuesday’s (9/7/21) arrests. My understanding is that a disorderly conduct charge is a violation and rarely involves jail time. I am also told that the charges against Molly Dunn and Gabriel Eliot, which are misdemeanors, can involve serious jail time.
A Grim Business
I find this entire business very sad. As a veteran of social justice movements for decades I have seen this kind of thing before. The BLM people feel a profound self righteousness. Imbued with their passion for social justice they feed off each others’ anger. They believe that because they are fighting the evil of racism and because their actions are peaceful, in that they do not involve physically assaulting others, that any resistance to their efforts has its roots in racism and authoritarianism. This only inflames their anger further.
They simply filter out the fact that they are breaking the law by obstructing traffic and ignoring directives from the police. It should come as no surprise then that they are enraged when they are subject to arrest for these actions. The arrests serve only to further reenforce their rage and frustration against what they see as a government bent on silencing them.
They also experience a sense of community in this kind of struggle. Given how alienated many of these folks feel these collective actions generate a much enjoyed sense of brother/sisterhood.
Still, the sense of empowerment they experience is fragile. The image of a woman screaming epithets at the glass doors of city hall at the police officers inside who are unresponsive is an image that stays with me.
The undisciplined nature of the BLM actions invites disaster. So far, no one has been seriously hurt. I expect that even the more serious misdemeanors will probably be reduced as they work their way through the courts.
I know that there will be those who celebrate these arrests. I knew that sooner or later there would be arrests and while I think the arrests were justified, I am not celebrating.
The City Council has appropriated $22,340.00 to engage Dynamic Communications Training, whose offices are on Caroline Street, to act as mediators between the City Council and Black Lives Matter.
13 thoughts on “Update On September 7 BLM Arrests”
I agree that no one should be celebrating these arrests but it’s important that laws and ordinances not be broken without consequence. No one in City government is ‘bent on silencing’ the Black Lives Matter in Saratoga Springs. They have a right to demonstrate as does any other group as long as they follow local guidelines for such activities. Sadly, our BLM activists have a habit of failing to act in a responsible and reasonable manner.
Racist incidents do occur in Saratoga Springs. Recently, a college professor who is running for local office was going door to door in my neighborhood to meet potential voters. Apparently, her skin tone was a little too dark for one of my neighbors who called to police to complain about a suspicious person on Friar Tuck Way.
Rather than the City spending $22,340.00 to mediate the poor relationship between Black Lives Matter and our City Council, a series of forums should be scheduled where long-term citizens-of-color can address the community at large about the challenges that they have faced because of their race. There is much that we all can learn about the racism in our midst. Our BLM activists have done nothing to help.
I value your thoughts on this issue, however, I do want to pull out a copy and interpret the US Constitution for a moment in reference to a sentence above.
“They have a right to demonstrate as does any other group as long as they follow local guidelines for such activities.” – Chris Mathiesen
There is a lot of tension between different echelons of government regarding what the Constitution actually means. It is an interpretive document, as is the Christian Bible. The document is designed to be accessible to the layperson, and we have a situation where there is a conflict between some government officials, like the clergy, and the people, who may prefer to interpret the document themselves, as in Christian Science religion (that has no clergy).
The BLM activists have the right, per the 1st Amendment to the USC, to ‘peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’ Since the Constitution prevents Congress from making a law to prevent assembly, and Constitutional rights are supreme over all lower echelon laws, it cannot be illegal to ‘peaceably assemble’. There is no requirement to ‘follow local guidelines’ to demonstrate.
The BLM protesters are misunderstanding the scope of ‘peaceful assembly’ in the USC as it relates to blockage of a public thoroughfare. A local peace officer or local judge should be able to ascertain, with copy of the Constitution, how to proceed in upholding the law in this case.
If the protesters had not obstructed traffic, which violated the rights of other people, there would have been no arrests due to the July 14th protests. Saratoga is establishing boundaries and upholding the Constitution. I support the Judges that signed the warrants in this case and the manner in which the police proceeded.
Apparently, Cato feels that parts of City Code Chapter 98 (Demonstrations), Chapter 148 (Noise) and Chapter 151 (Parades) are unconstitutional. He should present a legal challenge to the City.
While there are laws that get passed every day that are Unconstitutional in a prima facie sense when individually evaluated by large numbers of people, legal tests of constitutionality are expensive and risky in terms of time and money.
I do not think or feel it an infringement to request a permit to shut down a road. The BLM activists previously said they would have applied for a permit if they had the funds for one. This is a sort of poll tax equivalent that is a grievance – the city should provide a waiver if they apply for a permit. Gathering in the park or walking in unison on a sidewalk require no permit.
Why the “long term” specification? It’s incredibly ignorant to assume that only voices of black residents with a long time history of police encounters should be heard. Bias and discrimination can happen to anyone, regardless of whether they’ve lived here for years or a student or new to the area.
Describing my comment as ‘incredibly ignorant’ isn’t helpful as we try to heal our community. Long-term residents-of-color can give us all a perspective on the challenges faced by minorities living in Saratoga Springs without having to focus on a domestic violence incident that occurred in 2013 which had nothing to do with racism. A mature, articulate perspective on this topic would be a refreshing change from what we have seen over the past year.
SSPD, officials and the town as a whole are disgusting. The police department concocted charges against these peaceful protestors all in an effort to finally silence them and push a counter narrative that these community activists are somehow dangerous criminals, it’s pathetic. This sad excuse for a city closes down broadway traffic every year for 1st night, yet they’re the problem? The truth is this place has no interest in engaging with the BLM movement, let alone enacting any policy that’ll help protect people that aren’t white and or wealthy. Nothing more than an absurd abuse of power and overt racism.
It’s true that the City closes down Broadway for various events throughout the year. Broadway also serves as US Highway Route 9, state highway Route 50 and state highway Route 29. Every time the street is planned to be closed, many steps must first take place which take days of preparation at significant cost to the City or to the organization sponsoring the event. At one point, the City tried moving Memorial Day parade to Union Avenue only because of the increasingly complicated DOT mandated series of steps necessary to close Broadway. Keeping a major thoroughfare such as our Broadway open for travel is important in terms of the public safety of the entire community. Violating local laws and ordinances is not a part of a ‘peaceful protest’.
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Police also blocked Broadway on that evening. Both with cars, and with the riot squad in full gear. Why were all the black protestors subjected to warrants and arrests while the white protestors (who made up most of the crowd – and included me and my daughter) were largely left alone (especially two weeks after the fact!)
Civil Disobedience, like the kind practiced by MLK are valorized (and often held up as an example of the “right way” to protest. This is exactly what the local BLM did. The police lack restraint in Saratoga.
The local Elks know all too well how much it costs for their annual parade. This year’s parade is Saturday, Sept. 11 at noon on Broadway. Planned months ahead of time.
that is 22K of Taxpayer money down the toilet – but at least one side is trying to be adult about the situation, but I don’t see a path with this “group”.
Matt-Of course police blocked Broadway on July 14 in response to the number of civilians illegally occupying the main street of Saratoga and of course they responded in protective gear not knowing what the intentions of the demonstrators were since they had repeatedly refused to communicate to police what their plans were for the demonstration. I’m not sure exactly what your point is.
Also the police have not left white protesters alone as you assert. All five of those arrested at the July 30,2020, protest were white ,and I believe two of the five arrested on July 14,2021, were white as was one of those most recently arrested.
In addition the civil disobedience being practiced by BLM in Saratoga, I would argue, does not resemble that practiced by MLK. Those civil rights protesters in the 60s were focused and disciplined and did not resist arrests. What I have seen from the Saratoga BLM protests are participants actively trying to provoke police and randomly harassing bystanders to no particular end.
Finally I would take issue with your last statement that “the police lack restraint in Saratoga.” On the contrary I have watched the BLM protesters repeatedly verbally taunt the police with threats and obscenities, even harassing the horses–a dangerous game. In spite of the attempts on the part of the protesters to provoke a confrontation, the police from what I have witnessed have shown great restraint, refusing to react to the repeated in your face taunts and protecting protesters by blocking traffic.
I also believe that the police have shown incredible restraint and patience in this matter.