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Another demonstration in Hudson, while Catskill drags feet on street mural

Jun 26, 2020 6:33 am
Nora Mishanec at Columbia-Greene Media reports that a crowd of about 100 people turned out to show their support for Alima Bonsa, at the park in front of the Columbia County Courthouse in Hudson on June 25. The demonstration was not a protest, but more a show of support for Bonsa, a Chatham woman from West Africa who had a family court appearance June 25. Bonsa is seeking custody of the three children from ex-husband Allen Stack, who she alleges abused her for years. The Columbia County Sanctuary Movement helped organize the demonstration. “For 20 years I have been trying to fight on my own. Now I know I am not alone,” Bonsa said, addressing the crowd with a megaphone. Some in attendance claimed Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett is not getting back to them about whether he is investigating Bonsa's allegations. WGXC had a live webstream of the demonstration, with a recording in the WGXC Audio Archives from Neva Wartell. PLAY BRIEF EXCERPT HERE. Meanwhile across the Hudson River, Village of Catskill officials still will not agree to paint a "Black Lives Matter" mural on Main Street. An online petition has over 1,200 signatures supporting the proposed artwork. After a mural was painted on a street in Washington D.C., others were painted on Albany and Schenectady streets, and Hudson officials have promised one there too. But the Catskill Village Board of Trustees, so far, will only agree to a mural on Water Street or banners above Main Street. “What does it say about our community values to push a statement for black lives to the side?,” Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition's Coordinator Molly Stinchfield said. “If we are only willing to say black lives matter on a low-traffic side street used primarily as a cut through to Hop-O-Nose or a temporary banner that can be destroyed by the wind or torn down? The main concern [Village President] Vinny Seeley mentioned was not wanting to disrupt Main Street businesses after COVID. The village board’s 10-plus day deliberation sends the message that they value the economy and tourism before black lives.” At a June 24 village meeting, Seeley and Trustee Joseph Kozloski favored putting messages on banners above Main Street, while Trustee Natasha Law suggested painting a building. Stinchfield also said Seeley refused to entertain the "Defund the Police" slogan. “When we first asked Vinny, that was one of the potential slogans we asked about,” Stinchfield said. “He said it would have to say Black Lives Matter and we were willing to do that. We were not willing to move the mural off Main Street.” While Hudson quickly announced a mural project and a 10 percent police funding cut, Village of Catskill officials did not take any action. “If we want to have a conversation about changes in policy or finances, it needs to be in an open forum and have all stakeholders at the table,” Seeley said. “Moving resources and funding to mental health programs, economic development and other areas can be achieved but we need to work hand in hand with the town and the county. Creating a knee-jerk reaction right now could be dangerous and unwind all the work all of us have put in to improve the village of Catskill and build up all of our community. We had two very powerful and well-attended marches. Let’s keep that momentum going by challenging ourselves to continue a conversation and take appropriate action.” Protests continue locally this weekend, including a 5 p.m. June 26 action in Guilderland. On Satuday, June 27, there are protests in Albany, Schenectady, Rosendale, Monticello, and Putnam County. On Sunday, June 28, there are events in Rensselaer, Newburgh, Woodstock, and Ellenville.