BLM protestors call out Saratoga Springs officials during march

Emily Burkhard
Updated: July 02, 2020 10:16 AM
Created: July 01, 2020 10:27 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - A Black Lives Matter protest was held in Saratoga Springs Wednesday. Leaders organized it in response to the lack of communication city and county officials have shown amid calls for change.

City leaders initially planned to hold a community Zoom meeting Wednesday night to discuss potential changes to policing there, but it was moved to next week. Activists at the protest believe the change was made because they called out city officials for not including the black community in that discussion.

Protestors stopped at City Hall, the police department and several other busy intersections throughout the city, halting traffic to chant.

Though the city has moved the Zoom meeting to next Wednesday, "All of Us" co-founder Jamaica Miles said black community leaders still haven't been invited to speak before or during the meeting.

"I hope that the mayor continues to look for opportunities to reach out to local leaders and to reach out to community experts because she doesn't have to reinvent the wheel," Miles said. "People know what people need."

"All of Us" co-founder Lexis Figuereo said he has heard from Saratoga Springs Police Chief Shane Crooks.

"The chief wants to meet with me soon we will be having a meeting. So I will be sitting down with the chief," Figuereo said. "I'm also down to sit down with Robin, head of public safety, commissioner and the mayor as well."

Some changes leaders are discussing include creating a citizen review board which would look at racial data from instances where forced was used by police. The review board would have access to unredacted files and which could then be passed to the Office of the New York State Attorney General for investigation.

Activists said they would also like to see cases involving deaths or hospitalizations after an encounter with law-enforcement or corrections officers be passed along to the AG's office.

They also want some funds allocated to the police department moved to community-based organizations.

"There's no need for those horses, the cops on the horses," Figuereo said. "It looks nice for the town but it's not needed or necessary. If it takes 40,000 or $50,000 to take care of those horses that $50,000 to go to the community and be used for better things than riding around, parading around."

NewsChannel 13 asked about decreasing funding for police during a time when cities in the Capital Region are reporting sharp increases in violence. Miles said though there may be spikes in violence here and there, those statistics have been pretty consistent on a larger scale.

"It’s not an increase and that the idea that police are there to answer the call for things that do not require physical interaction, that shouldn’t be the answer," Miles said.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to the Mayor Kelly’s office for comment on the community Zoom meeting, but did not hear back.

Stay tuned to NewsChannel 13 for updates on this story.

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