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The New York Times looks for Catskill's Black Lives Matter mural

Jul 14, 2020 6:33 am

As Hudson finishes up its "Black Lives Matter" street mural, The New York Times reported July 13 about the Village of Catskill's vote against a similar artwork on their Main Street. It is unknown when the vote took place, since it was not in an actual village meeting, but on email, but it was announced June 30. Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order March 7 that mandates that government meetings can be held online, "provided that the public has the ability to view or listen to such proceeding and that such meetings are recorded and later transcribed." The public did not have the ability to view the Village of Catskill's email meeting. Sarah Maslin Nir writes in the New York Times that, "Catskill has had a sizable Black population since at least the early 1800s, when the village was a prominent Hudson River port; by the latter part of the century, local historians said, the village drew Black families from the South." Nir reports more than 20 percent of the population is Black now, though that number may be getting smaller, as at least one person quoted, Shirley Cross, 31, a member of the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition, is looking to move. “I knew it was going to be a no,” she said of her group's proposal for the mural. “I just feel like it’s a slap in the face for Black people.” Cross has lived in Catskill since she was 12, but maybe not for long. “I kind of gave up,” she said. “Even with my voice, I gave up.” Catskill Village President Vincent Seeley said he offered many other options besides the words "Black Lives Matter" painted on Main Street. “The fact that they are not willing to work with me and hear me out is really upsetting to me,” Seeley said, “and does not feel like I am getting the credit for what we have done.” Others said the only thing Seeley has done is walk down Main Street. “We marched down the street with these folks, but when it came time for action, they unanimously said no,” said Quintin Cross, who is also a member of the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition. Michelle Williams owns the Mermaid Cafe on Main Street and said, “You have people who are playing both sides here. But what’s the side? Either Black lives matter, or they don’t.” Other municipalities took actual action on July 13. The Poughkeepsie City Council voted in favor of the Right to Know Act, a police transparency law that will require officers to identify themselves, and the reason for their stop or encounter with a member of the public. There were also protests in Schenectady and Newburgh on July 13, and later this week on July 15 there are demonstrations in Ghent, Chatham, and Kingston. On Saturday, July 18 there are protests planned in Greenville, Troy, Pleasant Valley, and Waterford.