Susan Steer, Black Lives Matter, and the Curse of Social Media

The public comment period at the last City Council meeting (11/16/21) went on for almost two hours and included numerous Black Live Matter speakers who denounced Mayor Meg Kelly for allegedly referring to BLM protesters as “cockroaches.”

Anyone who knows the Mayor would find it unbelievable that she would make such a remark. Whatever differences people may have with Mayor Kelly, those who have dealt with her know that her sense of dignity and comportment would make a remark like this totally out of character.

I tried to find the source of this allegation and traced it to the following rumor tweeted by Susan Steer. Ms. Steer served at one time on the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals and is married to Bob Turner who is on the faculty of Skidmore College and who chaired a past City Charter Commission.

Tweet By Susan Steer

What kind of person would put up such an ugly, unattributed, slur? It is truly grim especially because Ms. Steer had to know that it would be spread by other unprincipled people happy to exploit it. As the videos below document, this gross attack is repeated again and again during the gruelling hours of public comment at the City Council meeting as though it were the truth. What are we becoming?

The spreading of such an ugly lie by Ms.Steer reflects the utter madness and cruelty that our culture seems to be descending into.

The Meeting From Hell

One would have thought that a lame-duck City Council with only one member continuing would have drawn only modest public interest at this November meeting. After all, all but one of the Council members would be out of office in less than fifty days and the meeting would be one of the last three for this particular set of officials. In addition, the BLM leadership has expressed joy over the new slate that will be seated in January.

The only hearing scheduled was regarding the Police Review Board introduced by Commissioner Robin Dalton, but her proposal was dead on arrival and no one expected it to get any votes.

Nevertheless, BLM turned out in strength.

Mayor Kelly began the meeting with an apology. There is a group of parents seeking improved traffic safety at the Lake Avenue school. One of the parents had been allowed by Mayor Kelly to respond to a comment by Commissioner Dalton on this issue after the public comment period had ended at the last Council meeting. This was a marked departure from what the Mayor allows at meetings.

The meeting then opened for public comment, and the BLM representatives proceeded to ignore any time limits normally required of speakers under City Council rules. The Mayor basically gave up even the pretext of trying to enforce Council rules.

The result was that between the public hearing for the obviously dead proposal for the Civilian Review Board and the public comment period, the pre-meeting melee went on for almost three hours. The Council did not begin to address city business until 10PM that night.

The rule to address the Council and not individual Council members was also ignored by BLM speakers. The focus of much of the rage was directed at Mayor Kelly who sat stoically at the table enduring the hours of verbal assaults.

What purpose did all of this serve? What was the strategy behind continually insulting the Council as a whole and the Mayor in particular? What did they hope to achieve? Nothing that I could discern.

What I find particularly interesting is that one of BLM’s demands has been an investigation into the death of Darryl Mount. The person with the authority to actually investigate the Darryl Mount death, however, is the Saratoga County District Attorney. Why, one might ask, does the leadership of Black Lives Matter not focus their attention on the DA’s office as well?

In fact, the BLM people for all their rage about the Council, know that the penalties they may face for disrupting Saratoga Springs Council meetings are minor to none. They exploit the tolerance of the City Council to indulge in a veritable orgy of anger and recrimination. For all of their bravado, the unspoken reality is that were they to attempt the same kind of activities at the County, the response would be very different.

BLM: There Is No Strategy– It Is About Self Indulgent Abuse

In contrast to Saratoga’s BLM leadership, Martin Luther King drew heavily on the writings on non-violence and theories and tactics for social change of Mahatma Gandhi.

Both men understood that for a social movement to succeed it not only had to have attainable and important goals, but it also had to embody compassion even toward its opponents. Hatred and bitterness, if embraced, would only serve to foster internal division and undermine the possibility for real success. A movement grounded in hate will engender institutions grounded in hate.

Make no mistake, as great as they were neither man was a saint. They were shrewd tacticians. King and his leadership team were well known for their long and thoughtful strategy meetings trying to think out every permutation. Actions were carefully planned and carried out with discipline.

It is sad that Saratoga BLM has eschewed this legacy.

The Problem Of Reporting On BLM events

The media is ill-equipped to cover the kind of BLM engagement that occurred at this City Council meeting. One challenge is that how one views the behavior of BLM members is always somewhat subjective. For some their unrestrained anger and verbal attacks could be viewed as appropriate in light of the alleged abuses they feel they have received from the police and others. For other observers, their behavior may be seen as odious and infantile.

It is impossible to provide their readers or their viewers with a complete view of the evening’s events. Lucas Willard of WAMC simply noted that the meeting was heated.

This blog provides me with the ability to dig deeper. The following are a few excerpts from what I found to be a several-hour ordeal.

For those who want to watch the entire meeting for themselves, click here.

[JK: Some fact checking: There is copious documentation that, not withstanding Lexis Figuereo’s remarks, Commissioners Madigan and Dalton made numerous attempts to engage Mr. Figuereo. The New York Times story contained no accusations that the BLM group was responsible for the vandalism of the Union soldier statue.]

Times Union Watch: BLM Charges Were Not Dropped

A story in the November 18 Times Union by Wendy Liberatore was titled ”Court Drops Charges Against Saratoga Protester.” The story involved Ms. Gabrielle Elliott who is the mother of Lexus Figuereo’s two children. The title was untrue, but the editor could be forgiven because Ms. Liberatore’s lead stated that “Charges against a Black Lives Matter protester…were dropped Thursday morning in city court.”

In fact, as the story noted, the court issued an ACD which stands for “adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.” Ms. Liberatore failed to report to her readers that the charges would only be dismissed if Ms. Elliot was not arrested again during the next six months. Ms. Elliott was charged with, among other things, throwing a water bottle at a police officer and resisting arrest.

This is the description of an ACD from Wikipedia:

In criminal procedure, an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD or ACOD) allows a court to defer the disposition of a defendant’s case, with the potential that the defendant’s charge will be dismissed if the defendant does not engage in additional criminal conduct or other acts prohibited by the court as a condition of the ACD


The charges then are still pending. The court has made no determination regarding guilt or innocence. It is significant that the court has not dismissed the case.

One could argue that the defendant may have believed themselves innocent but agreed to the ACD in light of the cost and inconvenience of contesting the charge. What is indisputable is that the charge has not been dismissed and that should the defendant be charged with a crime during the stipulated period they would have to defend themselves against the original charge as well as the new charge.

Ms. Liberatore’s story portrays Ms. Eliot’s experience in the most lurid prose with Ms. Elliot and her children cast as innocent victims traumatized by the police. I have written about this earlier. I was there during the incident. Ms. Elliot acted recklessly precipitating the arrest knowing her children were with her.

Hopefully Ms. Elliot will learn from this experience and will be sufficiently intimidated by the potential penalty of a future arrest to show more wisdom in the future.

Ms. Eliot and Lexus Figuereo are allowed by Ms. Liberatore to go on about the trauma to their children and about their plans to sue the city. I am not an attorney (their attorney characterized the charges as ”garbage”) but it would seem that an actual dismissal by the court rather than the ACD would have been more helpful were they to sue the city.

A Note To My Readers

Readers who have followed my blog are aware that I have written quite a few posts about errors in Ms. Liberatore’s reporting.

For a contrast to her story readers might read articles that appeared in the Foothills Business Review or the Daily Gazette covering the same events.

When I first started writing my blog I wrote to both Ms. Liberatore and to her editors about inaccuracies in her stories. I soon learned the futility of such efforts. I no longer make any effort regarding these, frequent as they are. Ms. Liberatore enjoys the full support of her editors.


Late breaking news–Daily Gazette reports “Saratoga County DA Charges Elliott’s Lawyer mischaracterized motive for conditional dismissal.”

In an article that will appear in tomorrow’s (11/21/21) Daily Gazette, Brian Lee reports that County District Attorney Karen Heggen said the defense lawyer for Gabrielle Elliott of Ballston Spa, “mischaracterized why her office agreed to conditionally dismiss three misdemeanor charges [Ms.Elliott] faced.”

The story says that Heggen refutes Elliott’s lawyer, Jasper Mills’, statement to reporters that Heggen recognized the case against Ms.Elliott as a “pile of garbage.”

“According to Heggen, ” Lee reports, “the DA’s offer of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal to the three charges….wasn’t offered because of problems with the validity or substance of the charges filed against Elliott as Mills speculated” and it was an offer made to many defendants in similar situations.

Heggen stated “As with all cases that are adjourned in contemplation of dismissal, the cases regarding Ms. Elliott are technically still open in Saratoga Springs City Court and will remain open until May, 2022. The cases will be dismissed at the end of the six-month period of time if Ms. Elliott is not charged with any new crimes during that time period. If she does not remain arrest-free during that time period, the cases could be reopened and the charges placed back on the court calendar.”

It remains to be seen if Ms. Liberatore will report on Ms. Heggen’s statement.

Black Lives Matter Leadership Ecstatic Over City Election Results

According to the November 3, 2021, Times Union, the leadership of the Black Lives Matter group is “ecstatic” over the success of the Democratic candidates in the November city election.

A Grand Jury?

To their credit, they have successfully put the investigation into the death of Daryll Mount into play some eight years following the incident in which he sustained an injury that led to his death. Both James Montagnino, elected as Commissioner of Public Safety, and Ron Kim, elected as Mayor, have publicly committed to calling for Karen Heggen, the Saratoga County District Attorney, to convene a grand jury to investigate Mount’s death.

It is undeniable that the leaders of BLM’s dogged campaign to have the case reinvestigated has had an impact.

Of course, the District Attorney, Karen Heggen, can ignore all this.

Maybe we will finally find out why she apparently ignored the referrals from the New York State Attorney General to review Mount’s injury and death back in 2013.

An Unstable Alliance

An alliance based on a shared enemy is notoriously unstable.

Lexis Figuereo, Alexus Brown, and Samira Sangare attended the election-eve gathering of the Democrats and cheered the results.

The Democratic candidates had successfully gained their support during the campaigns.

A careful analysis of the Democrats they supported suggests that the honeymoon between these people may not last very long.

The following is from the November 3, 2021 article in the Foothills Business Daily:

Montagnino expects to draft a report ready for his first day as commissioner. In it, he plans to outline both what happened and what the various legal concerns may be. He admitted, that he will let people draw their own conclusions on who or what caused the death [JK:My emphasis], but he believes a full report is needed for a community discussion.

Foothills Business Daily

Mr. Figuereo, Ms. Brown, and Ms. Sangare have made it crystal clear that as far as they are concerned, the police murdered Darryl Mount. How will they respond to a report by Mr. Montagnino if it fails to support their claim?

In another article, Mr. Montagnino floated that the composition of the police review board may be based on a pool of potential members similar to the selection from a jury pool.

I anticipate that Mr. Figuereo, Ms. Brown, and Ms. Sangare expect that activists such as themselves should be appointed to the civilian review board.

How will they respond if the method for selecting members of the board frustrates their expectations?

I find the BLM alliance with mayor-elect Ron Kim especially odd. In their fervor to defeat Republican Heidi Owen West, they have chosen to ignore the significance of the fact that Ron Kim served as Commissioner of Public Safety for two terms. Conspicuously absent during his tenure was any public discussion of issues of racism or misconduct in the police department.

Is it really plausible that somehow the police department was free of racism and excessive force during his terms but that somehow three years later under his successor, Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen, the department descended into bigotry and violence?

Overall it is clear that the leadership of BLM credits themselves for being a major factor in the success of the Democrats. That belief has led them to have high expectations about what they deserve from the new administration.

Mr. Figuereo told WAMC radio, “We are definitely looking for reciprocation, for sure. One hand washes the other.”

In the same article, Mr. Figuereo speculated that with the new commissioners that jobs might open up for members of his group.

He told WAMC, “There’s a lot of different positions that are going to be available. We would like them to be opened up to everybody, not just the normal people – Caucasians – of our community.”

It remains to be seen what will happen should the new City Council not meet BLM’s expectations.

It is hard to believe, given the bitter denunciation of the Saratoga Springs Police Department at the BLM demonstrations as being white supremacist murderers, that the recently elected candidates will not also eventually find themselves the targets of BLM’s anger.

A Saratoga Springs Democratic Victory: At What Cost?

[JK: I will be writing in more detail regarding the November election in a later post.]

How Candidates Campaign Tells Us A Lot About How They Will Govern

I simply do not know how to run a more negative campaign than to accuse your opponents of being a threat to democracy as the city’s Democratic Committee did in this year’s city elections. Their mailers included images from the January 6 events in D.C. alleging that the Republican endorsed candidates for city offices were somehow complicit in these events. This is in spite of the fact that the Republican endorsed candidates had gone on record deploring this event. Surely Pat Tuz, the chair of the city’s Democratic Committee was fully aware of this. Ms. Tuz is too sophisticated to believe in this kind of myth promoted by her candidates’ campaign, but apparently, concerns of fairness and accuracy simply gave way to a disturbing ruthlessness. Concern over the damage to the fabric of our community was jettisoned in the interest of winning at all costs.

How are these hyper attacks different from the allegations made by the supporters of Donald Trump that the Presidential election was stolen? How can the Democrats answer the argument that they have made up stories that are simply not true?

A Brilliant Strategy On The Road To Hell

The way candidates campaign tells us a lot about how they will govern. If they will flagrantly misrepresent the truth in their campaigns, it is likely that they will use similar tactics when they sit at the city council table. It also reflects how they will deal with others who may disagree with them. I hope I am wrong, but Saratogians should prepare themselves for some very ugly behavior come January at the Council table.

It’s Just Politics?

I know that partisans on both sides will just dismiss this kind of behavior as “just politics.” My problem is that these are the same people who deplore the fraying of the fabric of our civil society. Those who dismiss this kind of over-the-top campaigning might want to think about their own role in the decline of our institutions.

Aren’t we better than this?

Let me finish this post with a quote from a November 7 feature from Spectrum News 1:

Kim says there are a number of other challenges he plans to face, like infrustructure, but unifying the Spa City Tops the list.

Spectrum News

I hope the irony of calling for unity after gratuitously characterizing their opponents as anti-democratic insurrectionists is not lost on the readers of this blog. In the magical world of Mr. Kim and Ms. Tuz, bitterly marginalizing people has no consequences. The reality is that rather than strengthening and protecting democracy, their strategy can only serve to further weaken it.