Protesters gather to support Albany couple called to court, despite promise of dropped charges


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — More than 100 protesters marched across South Pearl Street on Tuesday, calling for justice on behalf of a local couple.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan released a statement June 3 saying all charges against Kimani Addison and Desiree Shuman would be dropped after she saw a viral video and witnessed what Sheehan called the arresting officers unacceptable conduct. Yet Addison and Shuman were still called to appear in court early Tuesday morning.

“It’s very frustrating, I believe, because it’s like when we think we are making progress, we’re not,” Addison explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.

Addison is still charged with inciting a riot, while Shuman says she was told her charges were lost in the system.

“When we got to the courthouse and we spoke to a clerk, they informed us that mayors cannot drop charges, only judges can do that,” Addison says.

“Their system has no records that I had ever been charged, so what was arrested for? What was I fingerprinted for? What was I brought down to the station for? Why was I thrown on my back, my hair being pulled for? Absolutely nothing,” Shuman says.

“This is my first altercation I’ve ever had with police in my entire life. To have it be so big and now that I’m not even given the right to go to court and speak my piece, because it’s gone now,” she adds.

Community members who heard about the court date rallied to show support. Organizer and local leader of the Albany House of Peace Manetertep El Dey says the peaceful crowd of more than 100 shows their united demand for answers.

“It’s one for all and all for one. Kimani and his girlfriend are a part of this community. This community is a part of the people. The people have got business and we’re addressing it now,” El Dey says.

“This says a lot. It says they [city leaders] are not really listening to us. Instead of getting really on board and bring positive energy and find solutions, you would rather blow smoke screens and use words of art to manipulate the people and to keep us at a certain level of distrust,” he goes on to say.

Addison and Shuman say they’re touched by the showing. Now they want to know what’s really going on with their case.

“The due process of law isn’t here. I haven’t been contacted by any officials to let us know the process to go further and continue what was happening,” Addison says.

“This process is over and over having to be replayed in my mind over and over again. I have to be going through this over and over because they’re not giving us any answers at all,” Shuman chimes in.

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins and Mayor Sheehan responded to NEWS10 requests for statement explaining their requests to drop charges had been submitted to District Attorney David Soares.

Soares’ office sent NEWS10 a letter submitted Tuesday explaining in-person arraignments are on hold due to coronavirus restrictions, limiting cases that are presented before a judge. The letter adds Soares will not prosecute, asking a judge to formally drop charges.

El Dey says the community remains hurt by police reactions to Albany protests and riots and these supporters intend to hold elected leaders accountable.

“You have to take notice of your own constituents that are coming together across the capital region to tell you about your lack of — your lack of due diligence, your misrepresentation of the people, and that’s something that you have to take heed of,” he says.

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