SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Saratoga Springs City Council passed a resolution to create a Restorative Justice Panel- but not without some obstacles. The council meeting was filled with chaos as supporters and opponents challenged each other over the creation of a Restorative Justice Panel in Saratoga Springs.
“We were able to pass it. And that’s a positive development,” Mayor Ron Kim said.
Jim Montagnino, Commissioner of Public Safety, viewed the resolution differently.
“To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. Disappointed on so many different levels,” he said. “The Mayor’s complete inability to keep order. This is just a recurring theme going back to February 7th.”
That’s when Montagnino pressed charges against Saratoga Springs resident Chandler Hickenbottom for allegedly disrupting a police task force meeting. Since then, saratoga black lives matter has been pushing for him to drop the charges.
Mayor Kim says the newly created 11-member panel would promote restorative justice through 50 points, including allowing a victim to address the victimizer, seeking reparations, and moving forward with positive dialogue.
“The best thing that a city official can do as Mayor or Commissioner is trying to calm people and just speak to them,” he said.
But that did not happen during last night’s meeting, even after several attempts. Montagnino says he is against racial injustice; he just doesn’t support the idea of collective guilt.
“I know American Juris rejects collective guilt, Judaea-Christian ethics rejects collective guilt,” he said. “People should be judged by the content of their own personal characters and not by perceptions of the group as a whole.”
Montagnino also says he does not plan to drop the charges against Hickenbottom. Samira Sangare from Saratoga Black Lives Matter is unsurprised, but the group still intends to speak up.
“Everything that we have done is within our constitutional right. You know, seating the mic, refusing to seat the mic, snatching the mic…not illegal. Interrupting the mic is not illegal. In the end, we showed last night that you know you’re going to listen to our voice,” Sangare said.
The council could not finish their meeting, so they will resume the session Thursday afternoon to complete the rest of their agenda items.