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Saratoga Springs Officials: Protesters Could Face Arrest

Protesters demonstrate in Congress Park in July (file photo)
Lucas Willard
Protesters demonstrate in Congress Park in July (file photo)

The City of Saratoga Springs is delivering a message to demonstrators after complaints submitted during a Black Lives Matter protest last week.

Demonstrators marched through Saratoga Springs last week two days after a grand jury in Louisville did not charge police officers with the death of Breonna Taylor.

The protest organized by the group All Of Us at one point marched to restaurants on Phila Street, where All Of Us co-founder Jamaica Miles recorded herself disrupting outdoor diners.

“You can come out and have dinner. You can have drinks. Darryl Mount is dead.”

Darryl Mount Jr., a biracial man, died months after a police foot chase began on nearby Caroline Street seven years ago. City leaders have remained tight-lipped on the issue as the city faces a lawsuit from Mount’s family, which claims police brutality.  

As Miles speaks to diners on the sidewalk, a woman is heard on tape shouting back, asking Miles to walk away.

“Don’t play me today–“

“–Go play yourself, honey!”

“You don’t want to play me. You don’t want to play me. I am not the person to engage!”

“—I’m telling you to walk away!”

Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, a Republican, played the video Thursday during a special city council meeting.  

“Over the last six days we have received hundreds of complaints from residents, businesses, and people who visiting our city over the protests that occurred Friday night,” said Dalton.

Saratoga Springs Assistant Police Chief John Catone then announced the department would take more forceful action against non-permitted protesters who block traffic or otherwise put themselves or others in danger.

“The demonstrators, protesters will be given the opportunity to move and if they fail to do so, the appropriate police action will take place and they may be subject to arrest,” said Catone.

Protests have occurred regularly in the Spa City since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police custody in May, several blocking intersections.

On July 30th, following a pro-police rally, armored officers used pepper bullets against Black Lives Matter counter-protesters who demonstrated in the street. Three arrests were made that evening.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly, a Democrat, said she “one hundred percent” backs the Public Safety Department in Thursday’s announcement.

“It is time to make some changes because we cannot have this happening time and time again in the City of Saratoga Springs. Period. We are not going to block streets. It’s going to be a time when someone is going to get run over by a car. There’s going to be a fight in the street, it’s going to be a bad scene,” said Kelly.

Commissioner of Accounts John Franck and Commissioner of Finance Michele Madigan, both Democrats, said they want to have a dialogue with protesters. They said they had not been contacted by All Of Us individually. Here’s Madigan:

“I want to meet with you and I want to move the conversation forward. Can we do start to do that instead of just coming to the city and screaming in the streets?”

Dalton, however, said she had made several attempts to engage with All Of Us, including providing the group’s Saratoga Springs coordinator Lexis Figuereo her personal cell number.

“You’re more than welcome to try. I’m just telling you, the conversations I’m going to have about race and bias and trying to move it forward on my own, in my capacity…I can’t do it with that group because they are 100 percent unwilling to have a conversation with me,” said Dalton.

Dalton did play a voicemail left on her cell phone during the night of the July 30th protests, where Figuereo said he’d like to talk to her.

Figuereo, a young Black man who grew up in Saratoga Springs, has appeared at meetings of Saratoga Springs’ police reform task force and has offered comments at forums with Dalton.

When he appeared at the microphone Thursday, Figuereo asked why members of the council are asking for a dialogue now.

“Why has it taken this long for this to happen? Because we’ve been doing this since May. Why has it taken this long? It doesn’t make much sense to me at all. It seems to me you’re important by property and money than peoples’ lives, and not screaming about Darryl Mount and Darryl Mount’s case,” said Figuereo.

Later, Mayor Kelly demanded Figuereo remove himself from the council meeting for interrupting others during the public comment period.

“Thank you! Goodbye! Thank you! Yup outside the building…”

The mayor also briefly verbally sparred with a young Black woman who claimed she was tripped by a white man when entering council chambers. The white man was Ed Moore, a former city police chief, who denied he intentionally tripped the woman.

Moore said he was tired of “lawlessness” in Saratoga Springs.  

“There are a lot of out of town people with an agenda. They don’t belong here. Violating our laws, disrespecting our people when they’re downtown, spitting in their food, that’s outright wrong…”

As news of the meeting spread, All Of Us posted a response to Twitter that reads:

“Months, thousands in the streets demanding change. Nothing. A couple days of phone calls and city is enacting change in the form of threats against protesters, no investigation against police brutality.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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