UTICA, N.Y. - Following the recent alleged misconduct of a Utica Police Officer, community activists came together to commend the UPD for how they handled it and on the progress being made between law enforcement and the community.
Standing in front of the Black Lives Matter Mural in Kemble Park, local activists and leaders wanted to hold a press conference addressing the recent actions of the now suspended Utica Police Officer earlier this month.
"We applaud the Utica Police Department, Police Chief Mark Williams, Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri, and Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara for the swift action taken as a result of the violent misconduct and police brutality inflicted upon Kerwin Taylor which occurred at the hands of the now suspended Utica Police Officer," Cassandra Harris-Lockwood, CEO Phoeniz Media said. "There is a transformation going on across our nation and Utica is lighting the way for police departments across the state."
Patrick Johnson, a activist and leader in the community, says he believes Utica is showing an example of how the Black community can work together with law enforcement.
“What we are doing here in this city is modeling the opportunity and possibility of how the Black community can work together with law enforcement," Johnson said. "We feel that it’s a model example of what we want law enforcement to do not only in this city but around the country.”
Sgt. Mike Curley with UPD sent the below statement regarding this press conference.
"The Utica Police Department thanks and appreciates the support and acknowledgement of the community members who spoke today. We make it one of our highest priorities to establish and maintain positive community partnerships that are mutually beneficial to all involved. Additionally, we strive to hold our members to the highest standards of professionalism and ideals of what it means to be a positive influence on our community as a Police Officer.
"The incident involving Officer Felitto demonstrated our commitment to those standards. We have systems in place to address misconduct of our officers. We addressed this issue immediately and openly and we will always strive to be transparent and forthcoming with our investigations now and in the future. It will continue to be our goal to garner community trust and build bridges in any way we can.
"Another message conveyed during the press conference is the distinction between these local activists, and the others who are blurring their message.
“This press conference is to distinguish the local Black Lives Matter movement in Utica from the radical elements who continue to insert themselves into BLM events with, it seems, an agenda to exacerbate tensions between our community and law enforcement," Harris-Lockwood said. "We find it unacceptable for others who don’t share our agenda to attempt to override or even hijack this critically important moment in time between the local Black community here in Utica and law enforcement.”