Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner releases information on protests

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blue lives matter saratoga springs 07302020

A Blue Lives Matter protest was held in Saratoga Springs on Thursday, July 30, 2020. (NEWS10)

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Robin Dalton released a statement Tuesday regarding protests in the city on July 30. The statement further outlines the situation that happened between a Back the Blue protest and Black Lives Matter/All of Us counter-protest.

Dalton says the Back the Blue organizers had planned their event for more than a week and had communicated with law enforcement and intention. They also filed a Declaration of Intent to
Demonstrate as required by City Code. Dalton says they stated it would be peaceful and requested the ability to march down Broadway. They also asked to hold a part of their protest on the steps of City Hall but the city asked the group to reconsider due to the number of people attending.

Organizers were given the opportunity to march down Broadway with the assistance of the police
department to Congress Park where they could continue their rally, Dalton says this is no different than any other group that has protested. Back the Blue organizers agreed to this to stop people from spilling into the roadway in front of City Hall.

The police department assigned four patrol officers, two mounted officers and one supervisor to assist with the rally route from High Rock Park to Congress Park via Broadway. Dalton says this has been the normally assigned police coverage for previous protests over the last two months. The assigned police coverage was in addition to the normal staffing for an afternoon shift in July.

On July 29 Dalton says police started noticing social media posts outlining a counter-protest organized by BLM and All of us. One of the social media posts asked counter-protestors to be in Congress Park by 5:30 p.m. and stated “it’s time to really show them we mean business”, according to Dalton. After seeing the post, the determination was made to add assistance from the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department, New York State Police and New York State Park Police.

At 6 p.m. the Back the Blue group started moving down Broadway from High Rock Park to Lake Ave. By this time the BLM and All of US group had formed in front of City Hall in the street.

Dalton said police assisted the Back the Blue group until everyone was safely out of the roadway. She says at that point the BLM and All of Us group decided to hold a march down Broadway.

By 6:15 p.m. all Back the Blue members were in Congress Park. At this time, Dalton says, BLM/All of Us members made the decision to sit down in the middle of Broadway at its intersection with Spring Street and blocked traffic in all directions.

The roadway remained blocked for approximately 5-7 minutes before BLM/All of Us members moved and entered Congress Park near the Carousel.

By 6:30 p.m. all groups had converged to the same location, front west side of the casino building. From 6:30 p.m. to 7:45 p.m., tensions were high, words were exchanged, but the groups were separated by a wall of police officers and the two SSPD horses.

Dalton says the Saratoga Springs Police Department stands by its original press release associated with this event and respectfully disagrees with the narrative by “All of US” leader/spokesperson in which he suggested that he and his group were targeted by the police and they were attempting peaceful protest. The police department has released video that depicts the events as they unfolded.

Dalton went on to say the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Department “MRAP” vehicle which was utilized is not a tank, but a light tactical vehicle used as a personnel and equipment carrier for their tactical team. This vehicle has been present in the City for all large protests, many large special events and all large Emergency Management details at the racetrack such as the Whitney and Travers Day.

Three individuals were arrested during the protests:

  • 16-year-old female, she was issued an appearance ticket
  • 17-year-old male who police say wasn’t cooperating, he was issued an appearance ticket
  • 19-year-old Andre Simmons, he was arrested and release with an appearance ticket

Dalton says the use of OC Spray and Pepper Projectiles is on the lower end of the Use of Force Continuum and may be considered for use to bring an individual or group of individuals under control when they are about to or are engaging in violent behavior. The Chief of Police authorized the use of the pepper projectiles once the situation started turning violent. Zero injuries were reported from the events detailed above, according to police.

Dalton also says that intelligence gathered before the event that indicated the possibility that one of the protestors associated with BLM and All of US was armed with a handgun and agitators from outside the area were going to be involved. Observations by officers and backed up by video, show
some protestors wearing bulletproof vests and duty belts containing pepper spray.

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