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Public Comments On Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets A Focus Of Monday’s Albany Common Council Meeting

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Discussion over public safety continued as the Albany Common Council convened virtually Monday night.Councilors continued to discuss three major issues: Local Law C, which would ban tear gas and rubber bullets; the COVID Recovery Task Force, and the South Station incidents, from the April 14th clash between police and protestors to the April 22nd clearing of demonstrators who set up a tent city on the street outside the police station.

Ninth ward Common Councilor Judy Doesschate proposed Local Law C, which a majority of councilors did not want to vote on during a mid-April meeting because of disagreement as to whether to allow the use of tear gas and rubber bullets in certain circumstances. A public comment period took up half of Monday night's meeting. Residents continue to urge the panel to pass the measure. Nairobi Vives chairs of the Community Police Review Board.

“I was very disappointed at the hesitance of many of the members to move forward and take bold action on this issue. I would like to thank Councilmembers Doesschate and Johnson for their firm stance and I would urge the rest of the members to follow their lead on this issue. So many have talked about the indiscriminate use and the effects that it has on Black and brown people in this community. I want to just say that as a member of the collaborative as well, we see that where there is an area for police discretion, there's also almost always discrimination against Black and brown people and it is your job, we are urging you to help protect this community.”

Doesschate also figured prominently in a discussion last week surrounding what she claimed was a "secret" meeting April 23rd of a task force created by City Hall to distribute $85 million dollars in federal COVID relief. 13th ward councilor Ginnie Farrell explained how it will proceed.

“They are just an advisory role, they do not have any ability to hand out any money. The federal funds were given and allocated in very specific kind of buckets. So the restaurant recovery is an example. So the real purpose of this task force is to make sure that it's people in the community that are actually watching the different buckets, and ensuring that all of that funding is used. So if it's, or another thing is, if it's used really quickly, then they can report back and say there is no much bigger need for this. And then the mayor's office can get together a group of people to try to advocate for that. Or maybe it's not being fully used, and there needs to be more word gotten out there. So it's, it's really in that role. There's no funding, they're not able to give any funds out. And that's not the intent of that task force.”

Half an hour prior to the council meeting, Mayor Kathy Sheehan's office issued a press release acknowledging the task force had indeed met on that date for the first time, naming group members and outlining the panel's objectives. The release is posted below this article.

Protestors joined the Zoom session to advocate for change following the South Station clashes. Michaela Foster reiterated several of the activists' demands, including firing police officer Devin Anderson, who had physical contact with some protestors, and engaging in a live panel discussion with Mayor Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins.

“We were out here giving a speak out. We weren't touching barricades. We had one blow orn. And we were reading our list of demands which have been sent out to everyone. They have been made public. We demand that there's a database created in cooperation with the CPRB, because police should not be investigating police. “

Councilors did vote on a resolution addressing climate change and noted that the Albany School Board will present its budget at the May 12th caucus. For now, tear gas legislation will continue to be discussed and the panel says it plans to have police representatives present for the next round of talks. The next regular meeting is May 17th.

Mayor Sheehan, Co-Chairs Whalen & Hoke Announce City of Albany COVID Recovery Task Force Members


Albany’s COVID Recovery Task Force Comprised of 41 Diverse Community Leaders Spanning Arts & Entertainment, Banking, Child Care, Economic Development, Education, Government, Health & Human Services, Housing, Labor, Non-Profit, Restaurants & other Small Businesses, and Workforce Development Sectors


ALBANY, NYAlbany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and City of Albany COVID Recovery Task Force Co-Chairs Mike Whalen and Jahkeen Hoke have introduced the 41 individuals appointed to the City’s COVID Recovery Task Force – representing a variety of sectors including Arts & Entertainment, Banking, Child Care, Economic Development, Education, Government, Health & Human Services, Housing, Labor, Non-Profit, Restaurants & other Small Businesses, and Workforce Development.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan said, “I am grateful to the members of the Task Force, which met for the first time on April 23, for agreeing to provide their time and leadership as we recover from a once in a century pandemic.”

The City of Albany COVID Recovery Task Force, created by Mayor Sheehan, has four main objectives:

  • Obtain a shared understanding of how the American Rescue Plan can help the City of Albany;
  • Identify the needs of the City of Albany residents, businesses, and non-profit organizations that are not covered by other funding sources;
  • Equitably and strategically maximize resources available to our residents, businesses, and community organizations to restart Albany and build back better; and
  • Engage every sector of the City of Albany to ensure resources are directed where they are needed to restart Albany, re-open businesses, prevent evictions, and strengthen our not-for-profit organizations.

The COVID Recovery Task Force will complete a needs assessment and identify areas in need of investment in the coming months to help Albany build back better. Mayor Sheehan and the Albany Common Council will use this input to help determine how to maximize the City’s Recovery Act Funding.

On March 12, 2021, Mayor Sheehan named Mike Whalen, Administrative Vice President of M&T Bank, and Jahkeen Hoke, CEO of Business For Good Foundation, as Co-Chairs of the City’s COVID Recovery Task Force. The COVID Recovery Task Force met for the first time on Friday, April 23, 2021.

To learn more about the COVID Recovery Task Force, please visit https://albanyny.gov/1924/COVID-Recovery-Taskforce

City of Albany COVID Recovery Task Force members

Click on image to enlarge.


Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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