“They’ve (police) shared no information with us, they’ve only sent out a courtesy letter to me and one other person,” said Foster, adding that the paperwork listed the offenses, noted “that arrests could be made at any time” and gave them until Monday to surrender to police.
Patrolman Patrick Irwin, a city police spokesman said Tuesday that Foster, 22, and 29-year-old Shaquenna Charles, both city residents, are charged with at least one count each of disorderly conduct, a violation, and misdemeanor endangering the welfare of a child.
Irwin said the charges stem from an Aug. 26 local community event in the parking lot of a bank where Charles and Foster allegedly cursed out police while broadcasting it live on Facebook.
He said that the charges were filed following an investigation by the police department’s detective division, which led to a filing with the court of an arrest warrant, which was sent out for the two suspects on Sept. 13.
A warrant is a document issued by a court or government official authorizing the police or some other law enforcement entity to make an arrest, search premises, or carry out some other action related to the administration of justice, according to information online.
Police Chief Eric Clifford, Mayor Gary McCarthy and School Superintendent Anibal Soler Jr. were among those in attendance at the event in the parking lot of the Trustco Bank at State Street and Brandywine Avenue.
Bike helmets and child safety identifications were being handed out for free, so the event attracted a lot of families with school-age children.
On Thursday, Clifford said via text that the “charges and the video both speak for themselves.” McCarthy did not return a call seeking comment.
Foster said they plan to surrender at 8 a.m. Thursday with a press conference and a “speak out” to discuss the matter slated for 11 a.m. Foster and others asserted law enforcement is targeting activists tied to Black Lives Matter and other social justice groups.
“This is political, it’s deeply racialized, it is shrouded in white supremacy and privilege,” Foster said. “This is them asserting their power and dominance, the same thing is happening in Saratoga County.” Foster is a member of Black Abolitionists Directive, a regional coalition and network of different organizers based in Schenectady.
The charges in Schenectady come on the heels of the arrests of several BLM activists in Saratoga Springs.
Jamaica Miles, who is in her first term on the Schenectady school board, was among those who had charges brought against them by the Saratoga Springs police, where in recent weeks close to a dozen people accused of blocking and stalling traffic face disorderly conduct and unlawful imprisonment charges.
Miles, co-founder of the group, All of Us, condemned the latest arrests.
“I do absolutely believe, as I stated in Saratoga, that there is a coordinated effort by City Council members, law enforcement and other agencies and individuals that have the power to try to silence those who have grievances with the government here in the Capital District, and they are using their power and privilege to try to intimidate activists, advocates, and organizers,” she said. “I have every reason to believe that it’s about freedom of speech, you cannot pick and choose how to apply freedom of speech, but that’s what they’re trying to do.”
Foster accused Schenectady, Saratoga and Albany of “actively targeting Black activists, Black organizers, Black community members who happen to show up at protests, even non-Black people who show up to protests.
In June, Foster and another defendant had one count of third-degree criminal tampering against them adjourned in contemplation of dismissal for allegedly using chalk to write on the wall of the police station in the summer of 2020. At the time, Foster questioned the charge, saying the chalk was water-soluble and was removed from the building within eight minutes after it was written.
The terms of that deal stipulated that the pair not get arrested in the next six months and the misdemeanor will be dismissed and the records sealed in early December. It’s unclear how these new charges may affect the disposition of that case.
Besides the chalking, the glass panel on the front door at the Schenectady police station was broken.
Messages included “We won’t forget,” “Stop killing us” and “Blood is on your hands.”
Police reacted to the incident by adding fencing around the front entrance of the station, leaving a walkway for people to enter.
The Schenectady protests, as well as the one in Albany that started the next day, erupted over the police shooting death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, in Minnesota.
On Tuesday, Melanie Trimble, regional director of the New York Civil Liberties Union in the Capital Region, said she has an attorney looking into the matter and that the agency stands ready to work jointly with any other on the case to “ensure First Amendment issues are addressed.”
“The NYCLU is very concerned that these are charges that do not rise to the level of disorderly conduct in any way, but we will suspend our doubts until we see the facts in the case, but we are also seriously concerned that if these individuals had not been associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, that the police would never have issued warrants for their arrest,” said Trimble.
She contends that the disturbing pattern of “overpolicing” is a statewide issue.
“There are other municipalities across the state in which police departments are becoming overly aggressive in monitoring Black Lives Matter protests,” Trimble added.
This content was originally published here.