The Saratoga Springs Police Department posted the document below announcing additional arrests of Jamaica Miles and Alex Patterson.
Leaders of the local Black Lives Matter group and the Capital District Group, All of Us, held a press conference today (September 9, 2021) on the steps of city hall to address the arrests.
From left to right:
The press conference began with Jamaica Miles reading from a statement alleging that the arrests of members of her group were part of a campaign by the police and the city government to suppress their movement.
Lexis Figuereo alleged that he was pulled over by the police for having an air freshener hanging from his rear view mirror before being arrested on an outstanding warrant related to his alleged role in blocking a car at the July 14, 2021, demonstration and his alleged role in disrupting City Council meetings.
Jamaica Miles asserted that the police action was an effort to deny her group’s first amendment rights. Figuereo’s sister Chandler Hickenbottom told the media that the arrest of herself and three other women outside the city’s police department was an example of why she and other people of color fear the police. She particularly noted that the arrest of Gabrielle Elliot in the presence of her children was a trauma that will stay with them the rest of their lives. She described the trauma of her arrest which involved being placed alone in a cell for four hours. She told the media that the police had arrested them to shut them up but that her arrest would have the opposite effect and that it would only motivate her more. She told the media that the arrests will serve to motivate others as well.
Someone from the media asked Jamaica Miles why she thought the police had posted on the police Facebook page video from the July 14 demonstration. She responded, “We don’t know for sure what they’re doing and we’re not going to make comments on their investigation.”
Lexis Figuereo condemned the City Council for appropriating $35,000 to hire facilitators for the proposed mediation with BLM. “I am never going to agree to a thirty thousand dollar meeting. You’re insane.” He asserted that this money would be better spent on services to help people. He objected to the fact that he and his group had not been involved in the selection of the mediator. He told the media that he would need a phone call from the city before anything could go forward. He noted that Commissioner Michele Madigan had called him last week but that he did not have the time to speak to her then. He told those present that BLM had added to their demands that all the charges be dropped for all those arrested for the protests in the Capital District. Figuereo and Miles also added a demand that all the attacks on the Black Lives Matter end.
The speakers all complained that they were denied facemasks when they were in custody.
The Arrest And The Baby Carriage
The press conference condemned the police for traumatizing the children of Gabrielle Elliot by arresting her in front of them. The children’s father is Lexis Figuereo.
Assuming that Ms. Elliot did throw a bottle at the police as is alleged, the police might have put off arresting her in light of the presence of children. I temper this speculation because I wasn’t there. Throwing a projectile at the police suggests a level of aggression that might have required a strong response
It seems equally appropriate to assess Ms. Elliot’s behavior in this matter. If she did hurl a bottle at the police with her children present it was beyond reckless. One has to ask the classic “What was she thinking?”
She also contributed to the trauma of her children by resisting arrest in front of them.
Just as the police might have considered delaying the arrest, Ms. Elliot could have protected her children from trauma by:
- asking the children’s grandmother who was present to take care of them
- agreeing to go peacefully with the police.
- reassuring her children that everything would be ok and she would see them later.
Instead, Ms. Elliot grabbed the children’s stroller in her effort to resist the police. The turbulence of the struggle could only have made a troubling situation into a very scary one.
Commissioner Madigan Formally Responds On Issue of Mediation
Finance Commissioner Michele Madigan issued a press release in response to Mr. Figuereo’s remarks at the press conference regarding proposed mediation. She indicated that for mediation between the city and BLM to be productive required the assistance of a professional mediator. She indicated her willingness to discuss the issue but made clear that without a professional mediator there could be no engagement between the city and BLM.
If Mr. Figuereo holds to his position that he will not agree to participate in mediation with a paid facilitator then it would appear Commissioner Madigan’s efforts will be in vain.
The Poverty Of The Press Covering The Press Conference
Those speaking at the press conference repeated over and over that the arrests were meant to intimidate and silence the Black Lives Matter group. They went on at length that the police and city were systematically using their power to deny BLM their first amendment rights (Freedom of Speech).
At root, the assumption of Jamaica Miles, Lexis Figuereo, and the other presenters was they had been falsely arrested in the city’s attempt to silence them. The obvious question, that for whatever reason none of the media asked, was did they block traffic and/or did they disrupt the City Council meetings even after being directed by the police to stop interfering with the Council’s deliberations?
The police may very well have resorted to the approach of arrests rather than summonses in order to discourage further illegal actions by BLM. The city has tolerated repeated demonstrations with minimal arrests for over a year.
It was instructive that when a member of the media at the press conference asked why the police department had put up videos from the July 14 demonstration, Jamaica Miles responded that they were not going to comment on the videos.
Those videos document the blocking of a car during the demo whose driver repeatedly told the demonstrators that he had a heart condition and needed to be allowed to proceed. It is not surprising that Ms. Miles did not want to address the videos because to do so would have required acknowledging that members of her group had broken the law.
It is most unfortunate that the reporter who asked this question did not follow up with the issue of BLM culpability.
The BLM people may legitimately speculate on the timing of the arrests. They may speculate on why the city chose to arrest those charged with disorderly conduct rather than issue a summons to appear in court. But for the media to let them go on at length that there was no basis for arresting them other than to intimidate and silence them without asking about the events for which there is ample video documentation is hard to understand. See the following videos.
Police Videos From July 14 Demonstration
The grey Lexus is apparently the vehicle whose blocking is the basis for many of the arrests.