SARATOGA SPRINGS – A Black Lives Matter activist told assembled media and onlookers this week that he found a police supervisor and the public safety commissioner’s recent comments “disgusting.”
That same activist then went inside City Hall and angrily told an officer to perform a sex act on him.
On Tuesday, after holding a press conference to criticize public remarks made by Assistant Police Chief John Catone and Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton, BLM activist Lexis Figuereo attended the City Council meeting.
En route to it, Figuereo encountered police officers who were regulating traffic into the meeting, according to a video Figuereo posted on Facebook Live.
Apparently upset by his experience with the officer, Figuereo, as he walked upstairs to the meeting, told the officer to “suck my [expletive].”
For emphasis, he adds, “Still, suck my Black [expletive].”
Lt. Robert Jillson, a police spokesman, said an officer’s body camera and surveillance footage in the building confirmed the interaction.
Asked to react, Jillson said:
“The ones that institute change within the Police Department are the chief, the assistant chief and the commissioner.
“As far as the officers like the one you saw standing, getting berated by [Figuereo] in that video – we just have to keep the peace, and abide by everyone’s First Amendment rights,” he said.
Jillson acknowledged that police are often asked why they subject themselves to the ridicule.
“We have to keep a balance, as best we can, as frustrating as it seems to say that.
“For instance, when they come out and take over the roads,” he said of BLM protests.
“Where do you draw the line? They want to get their message out but balancing it with the rights of the individuals who want to shop on Broadway, or eat outside without being subjected to their concerns and their voice. We spend a lot of time trying to make sure we keep that balance. It can get exhausting, a little bit, when you’re subjected to language like that.”
Jillson went on to say: “If you’re a social justice advocate, with the things you’re saying on the front steps of City Hall, but then you digress into what you saw in that video. Do you think it takes away from his mission? That’s my question.”
Reached Thursday, Figuereo suggested there’s more context to the video, and he said he didn’t understand what the outrage was about because people can say whatever they want in America.
The activist said there should be more outrage that the meeting was not accessible to a disabled person who accompanied him, and he pointed out what he said were various Open Meeting Law violations.
The meeting’s normal access point, a ramp that lead to two doors, was locked.
Figuereo said he found it odd – and unsafe for a BLM activist – to have to enter City Hall through the police station.
He said he asked an officer if he had reached the right place for the meeting and was told to go back to the original door that was locked.
Figuereo said he felt this was a deliberate attempt to keep him and fellow activists out of the meeting.
Figuereo said he made his crude remarks only after an officer gave him a smug look and “laughed” at him.
The city resident went on to say that no one should be surprised by his remarks. He said he doesn’t go out pretending to be Martin Luther King, Jr., the civil rights activist who favored passive resistance in his quest for civil rights.
Figuereo said his militant approach is more like Malcolm X’s, another slain 1960s Black leader.
Jillson was asked why officers were stationed outside of the council meeting in the first place.
The lieutenant said it was a general response after city officials expressed a desire for the increased police presence, particularly during emotionally charged meetings.
The governor’s declaration of a firearms epidemic only reinforced the decision, he said.
“I’m not saying that the BLM people are coming in here with guns, or we believe they’re coming in with guns,” Jillson said. “But you’ll see the security of City Hall is not just focused on them. It’s just a general sense of controlling access or making sure that people who are coming in aren’t armed, or are going to be resorting to violence, where they have a grudge against City Hall, or for a domestic situation. You never know what can happen.”
The BLM press conference Tuesday was in reaction to a June 28 press conference during which the assistant police chief and commissioner spoke about a June 26 melee.
The public officials pledged to saturate the downtown area with more police, and asserted some people running for public office had adopted a narrative that police were “racist killers who should be defunded.”
At one point, the assistant chief promised to draw on all of his family’s connections in the city to combat that narrative and people who allegedly pushed it.
In a statement Thursday, the League of Women Voters of Saratoga County said it found statements that linked protests and criticism of the police to increases in criminal activity an apparent attempt to “intimidate those who exercise that right.”
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