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Capital Region News

UAlbany Rally Over Death Of Donald Ivy

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Helmi Teklu
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At the same time the District Attorney is launching an investigation, a rally is scheduled this afternoon at the University at Albany to protest the death of Donald "Dontay" Ivy, who died April 2nd after a confrontation with police in Albany's Arbor Hill neighborhood.

Police say 39-year old Donald Ivy was walking in the wee hours last Thursday near his home along Lark Street and Second Street when three officers stopped him. At some point their interaction became physical, and Ivy was Tasered. Family members told local media Ivy suffered from schizophrenia and had heart problems.

Acting Police Chief Brendan Cox says the officers involved, Joshua Sears, Charles Skinkle and Michael Mahany, are on administrative leave while an internal investigation is being conducted.   "We've tried to make sure we've been transparent to the point we can be at this time, and we would just hope that the folks that are putting misinformation out there would stop doing that because that's causing the family more grief."

Cox referring there to statements made by individuals and groups contrary to documented accounts of the timeline of events leading up to Ivy's death pronouncement at Albany Medical Center.

Monday night the group Capital Area Against Mass Incarceration showed up at City Hall to conduct what it described as a "teach-in," its intent reportedly to "create a cop-watch for community members who feel police are taking their authority too far." The Ivy family has backed away from this and other events organized by the group on Ivy's behalf. Another demonstration was held Friday outside police headquarters on Arch Street.

Shortly after, during the Common Council's weekly meeting, a moment of silence was followed nearly two dozen speakers who had attended the "teach-in." Third ward Councilman Ron Bailey wants to know the reason Ivy was stopped.   "Hearing the people coming to speak out of concern of what's happening across our country today and what has hit home here - that young African-Americans are dyin' at the hands of the police - it's gotta stop -something's gotta be done. And for them to come to the body of the lawmakers to voice their concerns, I think we should give them as much time as they want to, to tell us how they feel about what's happening in the city and across this country."  Dave Lucas: "Is there anything the common council can do to offset this or to address the situation?'  Bailey: "Well, the Common Council does have a public safety committee, that addresses stuff that deals with the police and public safety. So yeah, as the lawmakers of the city, there is things that we can do."

What those things may be, has yet to be discussed.

In a prepared statement, Mayor Kathy Sheehan asked residents for patience while police complete their investigation. The Albany County District Attorney’s office announced Tuesday it would conduct its own independent probe into the incident. When contacted Thursday, David Soares' office respond by email "all we are able to say as this is an open investigation in its infancy stages: The Office of the Albany County District Attorney will conduct an independent investigation in to the matter. We encourage anyone wishing to speak with our Investigators to contact our office at (518) 487-5460.”

Scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the UAlbany campus: a "march for justice" demonstration.

Helmi Teklu is the Marketing Director for the student association and co-president of the Sankofa Africa organization. "The demonstration is speaking about the Albany community and how one black male who was a paranoid schizophrenic was tazed once and then tazed twice and was put into cardiac arrest and died because he had heart problems prior to the event. But the most outrage is the fact that Ferguson, which we see on TV as a faraway place, as you know all these students and all these people in the community advocating we stop killing black men is now literally sitting at our doorstep a few, two miles, three miles down from the Albany community, and this isn't something where we can just do one little protest or one rally and then it's over. Fact of the matter is that systemic racism that is in the is coming north."

Teklu sees the Ivy incident as a catalyst for change.  "It's a fact that someone in Albany died, a paranoid schizophrenic. What does that speak like? These are the mentally ill, who God never gave the right equipment for them to progress through life, so we are meant to take care of them. That's us and that's our duty as a society. But to see a paranoid schizophrenic, and for x amount of cops to get around him and taze him, and think he's not gonna freak out and lash out, and then to taze him again. One, it's injust because they didn't as people think to say ‘OK, you know, he's acting a little suspicious, let's find out the reason why before we taze him and put him down to the ground. Number two, if you could realize you could easily see if someone's like a schizophrenic or if they're paranoid or looking at things that aren’t there, you should know that the person isn't mentally stable, and the last thing you should do is take action against that person.”

The UAlbany gathering is not sanctioned by the Ivy family.

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