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.
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.]