All of Us cofounder speaks out about arrest, public officials

Local

Demonstrators protest near the White House in Washington, over the death of George Floyd on June 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — At Monday night’s Schenectady City Council meeting, activist Jamaica Miles reportedly read a statement addressing Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and the five sitting City Council Members.

The statement calls attention to Miles’ arrest last week for blocking traffic during a protest in mid-July. In the statement, Miles—co-founder of local racial justice advocacy group All of Us—slams the lawmakers for staying mum in the face of apparently unfair treatment.

Despite statewide efforts to ease relationships between communities and local police forces, many Capital Region communities remain caught up in the tension. Miles was among seven ultimately arrested over the past week.

Earlier in the day on Monday, in response to reporting on the matter from the Times Union, the New York Chapter of the America Civil Liberties Union tweeted:

A representative from All of Us sent the statement to NEWS10. Check it out in full below:

To the Mayor and the Schenectady City Council,

I am a life-long resident in the City of Schenectady. I will be 47 this month. I am a mom. I am my mother’s and father’s daughter. I am a woman of faith.  I am the co-founder of All Of Us. I am also an elected official, recently elected as a representative for the Schenectady City School Board. Though, I do not stand here before you speaking for the school board. I am a concerned community member.

There is a troubling trend developing here in the Capital Region: A coordinated backlash from city council members, DAs, and other law enforcement against the recent protests about racial inequality, structural violence, and poverty. This effort is an abuse of power, fear mongering and intimidation. It is an attempt to maintain the status quo, deter others from protesting, and to prevent any further progress toward justice from being made. The people of this country have the right to peacefully demonstrate and protest without fear of government retaliation.This attack on protesters is an attack on our first amendment rights of free speech and assembly. It is an attack on our democracy. 

I am here for all of us. People across race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, geography, language, country of origin, and ability levels are uniting, not dividing, to ensure that we reach the tomorrow we all deserve–one of freedom, justice, and opportunity for all of us, not just some of us. 

What we see happening here in the Greater Capital Region of NY is happening across the state and across the country. People are demanding justice. People are demanding transformative change. And, there are those who seek to stop them. Some in positions of power are ignoring the pleas for justice and demanding silence. Activists, advocates, and organizers everywhere are being targeted and arrested in an attempt to deny them and the people the rights of free speech and assembly, which sends the message that those currently in positions of power are willing to abuse their positions to maintain that power. What we are seeing in real-time is government retaliation. 

Regarding the statements recently made by Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas we see that  instead of choosing to address the concerns that many of our residents face, she has chosen to ignore their lived experiences and pretend they aren’t true.  

Like other conservative and right leaning politicians, Karen, a registered Democrat, has decided to traffic in fear not solutions, an age-old tradition that suggests that people should fear change. The truth is that investment in the people of our communities is the best tool to address the safety needs of our community. Substantial evidence has shown that investing, developing, and supporting education and economic programs do, in fact, lead to less offenses and safer communities. This will necessarily mean a reallocation or refocusing of government funding. 

Instead of considering that there are alternatives to the way things have always been done, Karen has dug in her heels to demand we keep the status quo or even strengthen failed programs. 

That is not listening to the entire community that she claims to represent. 

How could we not listen to the hundreds and thousands of people who filled the streets last year and all the individual testimonies of other residents that we have heard?  The safety of all of our residents means that we listen to all of the voices, not pick and choose who to listen to. 

For the health and wellbeing of our community, it is important that elected officials and other leaders in the community accept and value the different experiences of the residents in the City of Schenectady, use that information to develop policies and invest our resources accordingly. Doing this not only acknowledges those experiences but transforms our city into one that is equitable and representative of all of its residents. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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