COOPERSTOWN REFLECTS – 7 p.m. Join panel on Zoom to for ‘Cooperstown Reflects on Racism: History, Demographics, and Current Issues’ discussion with representatives from Oneonta NAACP, Cooperstown Graduate Program, Say Their Names exhibit, & Opportunities for Otsego. Presented by Cooperstown Village Library. Visit fovl.eventbrite.com to register.
COVID-19 TESTING – 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Otsego County residents are invited for free rapid testing for Covid-19. Find out quick, help stop the spread. Pre-registration required. Foothills Performing Arts Center, 22 Market St., Oneonta. 607-547-4279.
OPENING RECEPTION – 5 – 8 p.m. Celebrate exhibit opening featuring Eileen Crowell’s ‘Plant Portraits,’ Ruben and Damian Salinas’s ‘The Spirit of Gesture,’ and Pooh Kaye. Free, open to public, masks required. Displayed through 9/27, by appointment only. Community Arts Network of Oneonta, Wilber Mansion, 11 Ford Ave., Oneonta. 607-432-2070 or visit www.canoneonta.org/event/art-kaye-crowell-salinas/
COOPERSTOWN – A memorial to black lives lost to racial injustice and police brutality was approved for display in Cooperstown by the Village Board during its meeting this evening.
“It’s a great idea,” said Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch.
The memorial, spearheaded by Jennifer Dibble, Hartwick, would include laminated photos of black men and women from the “Say Their Names” memorial database, affixed to the fence with zip-ties, and decorated with flowers. A dedication, including blessings from Jonathan Brown and Rev. LaDana Clark, is also planned.
Editor’s Note: In this July 19 letter, Oneonta Police Chief Douglas W. Brenner expressed his concern about the“Say Their Names” photo display at the Westcott Lot. Nonetheless, Common Council unanimously approved the display Tuesday, July 21, and it was installed this past Sunday.
The Oneonta Police Department has always placed the needs and concerns of the residents and visitors to the City of Oneonta as its first priority.
While not insensitive to the issues facing the nation and the world, the efforts of the members of the department are best focused on what we can do for our neighbors to make Oneonta a better place for everyone.
On the agenda for the regular meeting of the Oneonta Common Council for July 21, Item 9 is listed as a topic for discussion and pertains to a photographic display supporting Black Lives Matter to be placed on the fence at the head of the Westcott lot on Main Street.
I would be remiss not to express my concerns with a photographic display that could show members of law enforcement locally in a negative context.
The city is blessed to have residents and visitors who can freely express themselves in a respectable and constructive manner, which has been seen on at least two occasions in the recent past.
We enjoy good neighbors, friendships and any display that disrupts the community feeling and positive energy of the community serves no purpose but to divide, especially when the content of the display is in relation to incidents that did not occur locally and show all law enforcement, including members of Oneonta Police Department, negatively.
Any display that could have ramifications that are potentially divisive to the City of Oneonta, its residents and its businesses, is not an image that should be promoted.
In addition, as the chief of police, one of my top concerns is for the wellbeing of the members of the Oneonta Police Department.
Police officers throughout the nation are under attack for the disturbing and unlawful actions of a few other law enforcement officials from other agencies who they have no contact with, no allegiance to, any sympathy for, and no tolerance for such actions.
This has caused a national shortage of those who wish to serve their community. Oneonta is no exception to this shortage. The department currently has two unfilled patrol officer positions and two members who are eligible for retirement. The current civil service list is almost exhausted and there is no entrance exam scheduled for this year by the state.
Many other departments throughout the state are accepting lateral transfers, as are we, but are able to offer more advantageous working conditions.
If my officers sense that the City of Oneonta is not supporting their hard work, their dedication to community, their professionalism, their unwavering dedication to fairness by allowing a divisive display, the probability of losing more officers increases.
We at the Oneonta Police Department enjoy a positive relationship with our friends and neighbors in the city, and work very hard to promote good relationships with all members of the community in which we protect and serve. A display that intentionally shows all members of law enforcement in a negative light based on the actions of a few from well outside our area would be devastating to the morale of the finest officers I have ever had the pleasure to work with and lead.
As the chief of police and a lifelong community member, I would hope that all factors are taken into consideration before any display is permitted in the City of Oneonta. Our strength comes from ourselves, and the residents in the City of Oneonta are compassionate, respectful,
have concern and empathy for our neighbors, and love of community.
Any display that does not emphasize the positivity only serves as a catalyst to create division and polarization of this community.
ONEONTA – Activist Diandra Sangetti-Daniels was shocked when she received the letter from Police Chief Doug Brenner criticizing the planned “Black Lives Matter” memorial in downtown Oneonta.
“I read that letter,” she said during her remarks at the dedication of the “Say Their Names” photo display Sunday, July 26. “If they’re truly protecting every resident, you would support this. To have someone in a position of power write this letter upset me.”
Brenner drafted the letter on July 19, but Common Council went ahead regardless, voting unanimously Tuesday, July 21, to allow florist Elizabeth Patterson, Oneonta native and the daughter of Paul and Sarah Patterson, to install the display on the fence above the downtown Westcott Lot.