Perhaps as many as 500 people rallied peacefully in Oneonta’s Muller Plaza this afternoon to hear Rev. LaDana Clark, a former police officer, above, say, “Most of our police are trying to do the right thing, but it’s the bad apples have to be checked and removed! There can be no peace as long as an officer can place his knee on the neck of a black man and take his life in front of our eyes!” As is happening nationwide, SUNY Oneonta student Sadie Starr Lincoln, Oneonta, inset left, organized this afternoon’s protest calling for justice and an end to racism following the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Other speakers included SUNY students Johnson Brown and Kimberly Miller; Rev. Craig Schwalenberg, pastor, Unitarian Universalist Society and Shannon McHugh, a member of the city’s Community Relations & Human Rights Commission. Attendees were urged to vote, to speak out when they see incidents of racism and to join the NAACP, Oneonta chapter; Rev. Cynthia Walton-Leavitt of the Red Door Church was on site with NAACP membership applications. The crowd filled Muller Plaza and spread across the street. Since social distancing was difficult, organizers urged attendees to be tested for COVID-19 following the gathering. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, MAY 2
PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS – 10 a.m. Join photographer JW Johnston for 3 part class ‘Notion of Motion’ hosted on Zoom from the Huntington Memorial Library. Registration required. Visit www.facebook.com/hmloneonta/ for Info.
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, DECEMBER 21
HOLIDAY CONCERT – 4 p.m. Wonderful works by Mozart including Missa brevis, more with The Voices of Cooperstown. Christ Episcopal Church, 46 River St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9555 or visit www.wearecooperstown.com/events/voices-of-cooperstown-concert/
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, DECEMBER 20
CHRISTMAS CAROL – 7 – 9 p.m. Theatrical performance of classic Charles Dickens Christmas story returns for 7th year running. Tickets, $15/adult. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1453 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/stec_event/carol/0
Fifty protesters gathered in Oneonta’s Muller Plaza this evening in support of the impeachment of President Donald Trump, which may be voted on by the House of Representatives tomorrow. Above, Alice Lichtenstein, Becca Brooks, Elayne Moser-Campoli and others flash their signs as passing cars while organizer Amy Pondolfino, right, read selections from Congress’ Articles of Impeachment, which charge the President with Obstruction of Justice and Abuse of Power stemming from charges that he withheld military aid as a means of pressuring Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to perform favors for him. The crowd followed by singing seasonally inspired songs like “‘Tis The Season For Impeachment.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, DECEMBER 15
HOLIDAY WORKSHOP – 1 – 3 p.m. Children are invited to decorate their own Christmas bulb, sing along to Christmas carols on player piano. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org/index.htm
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, DECEMBER 14
HOLIDAY RUN – 10 a.m. Race through Cooperstown in your ugliest holiday sweater. Runners receive free coffee/hot chocolate upon completion. Registration 8:30 – 9:30. Cost, $25/individual. Start at Santa’s house, Pioneer Park, Main St., Cooperstown. 607-547-2800 or visit www.clarksportscenter.com/events/2019-rockin-around-cooperstown-ugly-sweater-runwalk/
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, DECEMBER 7
HOLIDAY PARADE – 3 p.m. Celebrate the holidays on Main St. Line up at 3, parade at 4. Main St., Oneonta. Visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE FESTIVAL – 3 – 7 p.m. View Christmas Trees beautifully decorated by area individuals, businesses. Production Center, Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit www.foothillspac.org
TREE LIGHTING – 5:30 – 8 p.m. Celebrate the lighting of the Christmas Tree in Muller Plaza, Oneonta.
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – Gillian Gibbons’ voice was silenced when David Dart stabbed her 42 times in the Oneonta Municipal Parking Garage on Sept. 12, 1984.
But Jennifer Miller Dutcher intends to use hers to keep Dart in prison. “I am a survivor of David Dart,” she said. “I am a victim who has a voice, and I have to share my story.”
She told her story at the “Justice for Gillian” rally Saturday, Sept. 28 in Muller Plaza, standing at the podium besides Gillian’s sister, Jennifer Kirkpatrick, to encourage everyone to write to the state Parole Board and ask them to deny Dart’s parole this November.
“If he gets out, he will rape, he will kill again,” said Kirkpatrick, who organized the rally with state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford.
“Help us keep him behind bars,” said Miller Dutcher. “Please help us be that voice for Gillian.”
One evening in 1984, Dart came to Miller Dutcher’s parents’ house in Portlandville and asked if he could talk to her. “He was kind of a loner,” she said. “His grandparents asked us to include him.”
She went outside with him, but he dragged her into the alley between two houses and began to assault her. “He had a knife to my throat,” she said. “He threatened to kill me, and I begged for my life.”
She managed to escape and get back home, where her parents called the police. Dart was sentenced to juvenile detention. “I was able to get away with my life, but he took emotional, physical and spiritual things away from me.”
Though her parents asked that he get counseling as part of his sentence, they later learned that he denied all of it. And because his record was sealed, during his trial for Gillian’s murder, the jury was not able to see his prior violent conviction.
“He’s been terrorizing people since he was an adolescent,” said Kirkpatrick.
“I wasn’t his only victim,” she said. “He attacked other girls, but their parents wouldn’t let them speak out. And he didn’t get the counseling that could have turned the tide. Maybe if he had, if we had known, Gillian would still be with us today.”
Retired Oneonta Police Chief Joseph Redmond, a sergeant at the time, read a letter from former Deputy Sheriff Sean Ralph, who was the first on the scene of Gillian’s murder.
“To this day I remember opening that car door and seeing one of the most horrific crime scenes in my law enforcement career,” the letter read. “I would ask that you trust my assessment that David Dart is a savage and brutal killer that perpetrated such violence and rage that he should never be trusted to prey on an innocent victim again.”
“It was people like you who were instrumental in solving Gillian’s murder,” said Redmond. “Now, I urge all of you to get your family, your friends involved in making sure he never walks among free society again.”
Seward handed out flyers with the information on how to write to the parole board, as well as how to support his bill to extend the time between parole hearings from two years to five.
“David Dart is right where he belongs,” said Seward. “Locked up behind bars. Why should he and other violent criminals have a right to a parole hearing every two years?”
Kirkpatrick and her family will tell Gillian’s story before a member of the parole board on Friday, Oct. 4. Letters to the board are due by the end of October in order to be read ahead of Dart’s November hearing.
“If he gets out, he will do this again,” said Kirkpatrick. “It could be your daughter, your sister, anybody.”
At Rally, Victim’s Sister Warns:
His Juvenile Conviction Sealed,
His First Victim Tells Her Story
Jennifer Kirkpatrick, sister of Gillian Gibbons, asked 50 supporters gathered at the “Justice For Gillian” rally in Muller Plaza this afternoon to send letters asking the state Parole Board to deny convicted murderer David Dart parole in the stabbing death of Gibbons, 18, in Oneonta’s Municipal Parking Garage 30 years ago. “If he gets out, he will rape, he will kill again,” Kirkpatrick warned. With her is state Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, who helped put the rally together and has sponsored a bill to increase the time between parole hearings from two to five years for violent offenders like Dart. At right, Jennifer Miller Dutcher tells her story – that when they were teens, Dart, who lived with his grandparents across the street from her in Portlandville, held her at knifepoint and assaulted her. “We were able to get him sent away for a little while. But when Gillian’s life was taken, I was devastated. I didn’t think I did enough,” she said. Then shifting to address Bart, she said: “I am a victim who has a voice, and I am using that voice to ask you to keep him behind bars.” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, MARCH 29
AWARENESS EVENT – 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Main Street Oneonta goes blue for colon cancer awareness. Raffles, refreshments, giveaways and take-home screening kits. Muller Plaza, Oneonta. Info, 1-888-345-0225, www.bassett.org/medical/services/cancer-institute/cancer-services-program-central-region
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, DECEMBER 23
CHRISTMAS PROGRAM – 6:30 p.m. Bring a dish to pass, table service for potluck dinner, followed by candlelight service. United Methodist Church, 2878 St. Hwy. 28, Portlandville.