Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Reforming and Reinventing the Police in New Paltz, NY


New Paltz Women in Black Vigil                      photo: Lauren Thomas of Hudson Valley One

We think it is imperative that we use this time of racial reckoning to make transformative changes to policing in our town. As many other communities are doing, we feel it is vital that we reallocate police funds to local health and human services that would alleviate causes of crime and make our community safer, stronger and more connected. We also propose the following changes to make our police force more accountable and transparent. If you live in New Paltz or its environs please let us know if we can add your name or the name of your organization to this statement. Write to anahatasun@aol.com with your name or reply in the comments below. You will be endorsing this statement that does not include the photo above. Over 60 individuals and five organizations have signed on so far. Thank you!


             New Paltz Women in Black Statement on New Paltz Police                                                   Reform and Reinvention

For the last twenty years, New Paltz Women in Black has been an important presence in our community. You can see us any Saturday, standing vigil outside the Elting Library for peace and justice and against war, militarism and violence in all its forms around the world. Hundreds have joined our vigils over the years and thousands of local people have attended our special demonstrations and marches that have ranged from calling for the end of family separation and the caging of children to our November 2019 protestHonor Diversity—Defeat White Supremacy. At this moment in 2021, we are joining the effort to reimagine the ways in which New Paltz provides for the safety of our community.

We have a unique window of opportunity to reform and reinvent police in communities across the nation. In 2020, the brutal killing of George Floyd coming on top of the killings and mistreatment of thousands of other unarmed black and brown people through the years, reinvigorated the movement for black lives that historically is as significant as the Civil Rights protests of the 1960’s. It led to over 25 million Americans of all colors, ages and backgrounds, including hundreds here in New Paltz, taking to the streets to demand real change.

The recent police response to the violent insurrection at our nation’s Capitol also shows the inherent disparity in police response based on race.

The history of policing as an arm of Jim Crow, the reality of structural racism, and the role it has played in the unequal treatment of people of color for centuries, are part of the background to any discussion of law enforcement. It begins with every police department in our nation rooting out any officers who show any affiliation with white supremacy.

Our goal is to have a more secure and safe community for everyone. In compliance with Cuomo’s Executive Order 203 seeking community input, we are making the following proposals.

Community-Based Solutions

We envision a town in which many of the current responsibilities of the police are carried out by civilians and much of the $2.8 million which has been allocated to policing can be used more directly for the good of our community and to alleviate causes of crime and violence.

Funds should be reinvested in mental health care and drug treatment services right in town. Our community should provide services, such as: day care and after school programs for children of working parents, food security, and affordable housing.  Such programs will go a long way toward reducing underlying societal problems that often lead to crime. 

We envision many roles for civilian employees of the town, rather than having armed police respond to all 911 calls

Social workers hired by the town should be responsible for intervening when someone has a mental health crisis or drug overdose along with medical first responders. They should accompany police in situations of domestic abuse.

Civilian peacekeepers employed by the town and empowered to write tickets should respond to noise complaints, whether these are the result of loud parties in someone’s home or boisterous customers leaving bars at closing time. If peacekeepers feel there’s a situation, they can’t handle they would call in uniformed police.

Civilian peacekeepers can also be trained to go to the scene of a car crash, write tickets if appropriate, and write up the accident report.

Police should not be in the schools. Civilian peacekeepers can check people in and help to maintain order in the schools.

In cases of violence involving weapons, the police would respond.

To reduce the number of guns in the community, we support an annual gun buy-back program.

Police numbers can be reduced without any adverse impact on public safety as there are many departments policing our community. In addition to the New Paltz Police Department (budget of $2.8 million), there is the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office (budget of over $3 million), SUNY New Paltz Police and the New York State Police which has a statewide budget of $1 billion with five stations in Ulster County.

 Transparency and Accountability Build Trust

The public has a right to know how the New Paltz Police Department spends its funds. The full police budget should be released each year.

For armed, uniformed police, body and dashboard cameras must be required with penalties for turning them off, and the recordings must be made accessible to the public in a timely fashion.

A community oversight commission with subpoena power should be established to review police conduct as a matter of course. It should have the power to conduct investigations and to make disciplinary recommendations.

Police misconduct records should be made accessible to the public.

We oppose police use of military weapons, equipment or tactics, or any training that emphasizes a warrior, rather than a peacekeeper mentality.

Training should emphasize how to deescalate situations and teach mediation skills, nonviolent conflict resolution, ethics and diversity training.

Local police should not assist immigration law enforcement.

We support ending qualified immunity in its current form that makes it almost impossible for officers to be held responsible for violating a person’s constitutional rights.

The department policy on use of force should be available for public scrutiny to ensure the police always use the least force possible,

Officers should be required to intervene when another officer is using excessive force.

Attack dogs should be banned.

The restructuring we propose will enable our community to provide services that will decrease crime and provide citizens with the mental health, drug treatment and other services needed for them to live healthy and productive lives.

When there is transparency and accountability, trust for the police is enhanced and public cooperation and respect for their work increases. It begins with the police treating every person they encounter with respect and dignity and their actions being carried out with the highest degree of professionalism.  Streamlining the roles police play will also contribute to the public’s appreciation for the times they are indispensable for our safety.

 Signed by the following individuals and organizations:

 New Paltz Women in Black

Anne Wandres

Barbara Upton

Beth Dulay

Carrie Sutton

Donna Goodman

Inge Kraus

Ingrid Hughes

Jay Klokker

Linda Abbot

Linda Mockler

Margaret Human

Marguerite Shinouda

Naomi Allen

Nick Brink

Noel Acevedo

Priscilla Bassett

Rich Silverman

Rosalyn Cherry

Ruth Molloy

Shirley Warren

Toni Brink


Organizations Endorsing this Statement

Citizen Action

Concerned Parents of New Paltz

DeFacto Community Center Project

New Paltz Coalition for Community Safety and Well Being

Ulster Activists/U-ACT


Individual Endorsers

Alex Passas

Alexandra Zissu

Amanda Meglio

Amanda Sisenstein

Amy Little

Barbara Chatr-aryamontri 

Chaia Lehrer

Cindy Joao

Edgar Rodriguez

Fanon Frazier

Gowri Parameswaran

Harper Keehn

Helen Coyle Bergstein

Hubert Dulay

Iris Bloom

Jane Schanberg

Jessica Decker

Jo Salas

Joakim Lartey

Judy Diamond

Karen Cathers

Katherine Hamilton

Kevin F. Kelly

Lagusta Yearwood

Maggie Veve

Marsha Cotton

Melissa Ortquist

Michele Riddell

Nancy Schniedewind

Naomi Schechter

Olli Chanoff

Puja Thompson

Richard Mattocks

Roselyn Daniel

Shanique Alladen

Stasha Hughes

Stephanie Ellis

Tanya Marquette

Tom Denton

Tom Jelliffe









Saturday, November 23, 2019

Kingston Rally for Impeachment - "No One Is Above the Law!"

About 50 people came out in cold, windy conditions in Kingston last night to demand accountability for Trump's corruption. "No One Is Above the Law" held by six people dominated the signs and sentiments of those there. Indivisible NY 19 organized the impromptu rally and we thank them!

It's very important that we use this crucial time to make our voices heard. As the organizers for the No One Is Above the Law- Bribery Is a High Crime said,

"We need to tell Congressman Antonio Delgado and House Democrats that we have their backs. Every member- Democrat and Republican- needs to remember the oath they took to protect the Constitution and speak out publicly in this moment to say nobody is above the law.

The GOP is stirring up their base to make calls to squash this inquiry into the president's wrong doing. We cannot let 25% of the voters (Trump's base) own the message. It's time to stand up."

70% of Americans think Trump's actions were wrong.

For a short vieo of the evening-  https://www.facebook.com/paul.kuklinski/videos/10221390683016919/?multi_permalinks=2419941911589974%2C2419893551594810%2C2419089651675200&notif_id=1574567009018119&notif_t=group_activity

"Trump corruptly tried to extort a foreign ally at a moment of extreme vulnerability into announcing investigations that would boost his reelection chances." Washington Post Nov 22, 2019

When I called Rep Delgado's office yesterday, the staffer who answered the phone, seemed genuinely pleased to hear from a constituent thanking him for his stand on impeachment.

Please call  (202) 225-5614 or (845) 443-2930. 

Contact your friends in red states and ask them to call their representatives to support the impeachment inquiry too! Thank you and thanks to all who braved the weather to come out last night!

Kudos to Susan Jaworski for initiating the action!

Friday, November 8, 2019

New Paltz Honors Diversity and Takes a Stand to Defeat White Supremacy!

Donna Goodman and Ingrid Hughes
Photo by Susan Lehrer
All other photos by Barbara Upton
On Saturday, Nov 2, about 200 people took to the streets to say no to racism, bigotry and hate and to defend equality, inclusion and diversity! New Paltz Women in Black sponsored the action and Donna Goodman and Ingrid Hughes were the organizers. We thank them, our speakers, our cosponsors (below) and all who joined us!

Special thanks too to the Tin Horn Uprising Brass Band,  Debbie Lan and The Resisterhood Choir and the Redwing Blackbird Puppet Theater for adding drama, music and a festive atmosphere for the day!

Check out our great coverage in the New Paltz Times and in Mid Hudson News. We thank Spectrum News too!

CarmenTirado, SUNY New Paltz, Urban Lyrics

Charlie Olver, SUNY New Paltz NYPIRG

New Paltz Women in Black has been holding a vigil in front of the Elting Library every Saturday for 18 years! Please join us any Saturday from 12:45 to 1:30 pm to stand for peace and justice for all! 
Join us on Facebook too!

Thanks to our 36 terrific cosponsors!

AJ Williams-Myers African Roots Center, American Association of University Women Kingston, Amnesty International Mid-Hudson, Concerned Parents of New Paltz, De Facto Community Center, Dutchess County Progressive Action Alliance, End the New Jim Crow Action Network (E.N.J.A.N), Extinction Rebellion New Paltz, Holy Cross/Santa Cruz Church Kingston, Hudson Valley Humanists, Hudson Valley Lesbians Organizing for Change, IndivisibleUlster, Jewish Voice for Peace, Kingston Women in Black, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program at SUNY New Paltz, March On Hudson Valley, Maya Gold Foundation, Mid-Hudson Jews for Racial Justice, Middle East Crisis Response, Move Forward New York, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition, New Paltz Food Not Bombs, New Paltz Socialists, SUNY New Paltz Spanish Club, NYPIRG, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Resisterhood, Rondout Valley High School Human Rights Club, Saugerties Democratic Committee, SUNY New Paltz Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Take Back the Night, Tin Horn Uprising, U-Act, Ulster Immigrant Defense Network, UU Catskills and Vassar Students for Justice in Palestine.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Two Hundred Rise against Hate in New Paltz!

The day was sunny, the mood was energized and the resolve was strong, as people gathered on a street corner to denounce hate and bigotry in our schools and beyond last Saturday. The event was initiated by Lexy Zissu and Olli Chanoff, parents of a New Paltz Middle School student. They were upset by the District's lack of response to ten incidents of hate in New Paltz schools, which included swastika graffiti and students calling others the n-word. The event, co-organized by New Paltz Women in Black, expanded to include support for all the marginalized and vulnerable people in our community who are targets of hate, bullying and intimidation.

We thank our co-sponsors (listed below), the wonderful speakers and all who attended to take a stand against racism and bigotry and to affirm New Paltz and our Hudson Valley as hate-free zones!

We are also grateful to the performers who enlivened the day with music and puppetry. A big thanks to the amazing Tinhorn Uprising brass band, the dramatic Red Wing Blackbird Theater and the lovely and impactful Resisterhood Choir led by Debbie Lan. Also thanks to the Cronin Art Gallery at Water Street Market where we began the day making signs!

It takes a community and we are fortunate to live in one that stands for unity and equal rights for all!


Thank you to our inspiring speakers -

Amy Myslik, representing NYS Rep Jen Metzger’s office 
Elana Michelson of the Ulster Immigrant Defense Network     
Galo Vasquez, New Paltz Socialists
Jane Toby, Jewish Voice for Peace 
KT Tobin, Deputy Mayor of New Paltz
Superintendent Maria Rice 
Masha Shmarina, Wallkill HS student representing Amnesty International, HV Chapter
Rachel Labare, New Paltz Democratic Women
Sophia Skiles, Board member & organizer of vigils for Black Lives 
Tanya Marquette, Concerned Parents of New Paltz 
Victoria Nazario, student at Roundout Valley HS, representing the Human Rights Club.

Photos by Lexy Zissu, New Paltz Democratic Women and Barbara Upton

Thanks too to our supportive co-sponsors- please support the good work of all of them-

The ReSisterhood
New Paltz Democratic Women
New Paltz Racial Equity Coalition
March On Hudson Valley
Indivisible the Fight Is On
AAUW, KIngston
ENJAN- End New Jim Crow Action Network
Move Forward New York
Indivisible Ulster
U-Act (Ulster Activists)
Ulster Immigrant Defense Network
Roundout Valley HS Human Rights Club
Concerned Parents of New Paltz
New Paltz Socialists
The Maya Gold Foundation
Amnesty International, Hudson Valley Chapter
GLSEN Hudson Valley
Jewish Voice for Peace- Hudson Valley

And biggest thanks to Lexy Zissu and her partner Olli Chanoff for their leadership and making this whole thing happen!

If you would like to stay involved in making the New Paltz schools hate-free, welcoming and safe for all students contact Lexy Zissu at az@alexandrazissu.com 
If you would like to continue to fight for acceptance, understanding and justice for all, contact Barbara Upton of New Paltz Women in Black at anahatasun@aol.com.

BREAKING! Check out our front page coverage in the New Paltz Times!! https://hudsonvalleyone.com/2019/06/12/new-paltz-rallies-against-hate-in-its-schools-beyond/?fbclid=IwAR0wWsqamuAW4dH1qIgvhpnG9cna4kWBQTC6cusWzB5vaphFndjtgYkWMPs