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Capital Region News

Local Activists Fault Albany Common Council For Tabling Ban On Tear Gas, Rubber Bullets

Albany City Hall
Dave Lucas
/
WAMC
Albany City Hall

Local activists are faulting the Albany Common Council for tabling a bill that would ban tear gas and rubber bullets.

The Center for Law and Justice, All Of Us and Youth FX joined forces to host a virtual discussion Thursday. The "Power of the People" session followed a meeting where the Albany Common Council tabled Local Law C by a vote of 9 to 6. Approved in March by the Public Safety Committee, the law proposed by 9th Ward Common Councilor Judy Doesschate would have banned the use of tear gas and rubber bullets with the exception of a hostage situation.

Bhawin Suchak is Executive Director of YouthFX.

"A lot of these people are up for reelection or there's new people running. And we have to get rid of these folks who are unwilling to do what their constituents are asking them to do and need to be voted out."

The Democratic primary is June 22nd. Among the nine councilors who tabled the measure are four who aren’t running for another term: Richard Conti, Joe Igoe, Michael O'Brien and Cathy Fahey. The councilors up for re-election are Alfredo Balarin, Ginny Farrell, Jack Flynn, Kelly Kimbrough and Joyce Love.

Ivy Morris, former chair of Albany's Community Police Review Board, is urging residents to head to the polls.    "We need to light a fire underneath all these folks in the South End who do not vote. So we need to make sure of that because everyone's trying to take away our power, because they realize now that we are not to be messed with, that when we coalesce, we win. So what we need to do is figure out a way to get on the ground, all of us to kind of lift the common council members that we support and that support us, and get rid of those who don't."

Third Ward Councilor Joyce Love had told councilors before the vote on Local Law C that she experienced teargas firsthand last June 1st, but expressed fear that with an outright ban, police might be led to "open fire" on poor neighborhoods.

Again, Morris:

"Because you cannot say in one instance, I was afraid and my eyes were burning, and then say, hey, let's table it after the what, fifth, sixth meeting, I'm exaggerating, but it seems like it's gone on forever. It's too little. And it's... they need to be held accountable. If we're to be held accountable for what we do as a community. The Common Council needs to be held accountable if they don't get with what we we've tasked them to do. They need to go."

Lauren Manning with the Center For Law and Justice suggests alternatives.

"There's 20 ways to skin a cat. You don't have to have legislation to ban tear gas. It can just be an internal policy, you know, because I'm gonna keep showing up, and I hope everybody else does too."

A proposed amendment to Local Law C would have allowed police to use tear gas in a situation determined to be a riot. Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, a Democrat running for a third term, and Police Chief Eric Hawkins oppose an outright ban.  The Common Council is expected to continue to discuss the measure.

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