King: We need to stand united against hatred
Doesn’t feel the KKK has a big presence in city
GLOVERSVILLE –City officials met on Monday to state that hate has no home in this city.
During a meeting with media outlets in City Hall, Mayor Dayton King, First Ward Councilwoman Marcia Weiss and Third Ward Councilman Vincent DeSantis spoke about their reaction to The Leader-Herald’s three day series on the presence of those identifying themselves as Klu Klux Klan members in the city.
King has been vocal on social media saying he does not agree with the paper’s decision to run this story the way it was.
“We’ve been doing a great job here in Gloversville, especially in the past couple years. We have had a lot of great events downtown. This is not Gloversville. To say the local KKK thrives here is completely untrue,” King said.
King said his message to anyone who is a member of the KKK is their threats could have unintended consequences.
“I’d say stop immediately. Stop engaging in that type of activity. You can have your thoughts. I’d prefer people didn’t think that way, but I know they do, but I’d say be very careful in how you act and what you do. It is not tolerated in Gloversville,” he said.
King said he questions if there are KKK members active in the city. He said he feels every community has sick people who could be dangerous and they should have an eye kept on them.
“I think what you are going to see is unintended and these four people whose faces were on there are being identified. There are people that are on social media. They are going to be targeted by people who have had enough,” King said.
King said he doesn’t believe there is a great effort by the KKK in the city. He said there haven’t been public rallies by this group.
He said he doesn’t have proof that the number of members quoted in the series as accurate or inaccurate.
He said he feels there is a double standard relating to the newspaper’s letters to the editor policy which requires names to be given, versus individuals quoted in the story using false names.
“[The Leader-Herald] has given this terrorist organization a platform to 7,000 people and online it keeps going,” King said.
DeSantis said he knows every attorney in the city, and said he would be unnerved to hear that members of the medical and legal communities were affiliated with the Klan.
“I would be more than shocked to think that anyone of them would be a member of this terrorist organization — the KKK. It’s beyond credibility” DeSantis said. “I also know many the doctors in the community personally and I would be shocked to think that anyone of them would be associated with an organization like this.”
King said people have put fliers on cars around the city, but they are a small percentage of people.
Weiss said she found the situation sad, and wishes the focus of the Sunday edition of the paper could have been on events that were in the city.
“Quite honestly, it makes me sad. It makes me sad that we’re not being seen for who we really are. Instead we are being portrayed for a city we aren’t,” Weiss said.
King said he plans to look into the possible reach of the Klan in Gloversville. He said he has spoken to police chief Marc Porter. King said Porter told him he doesn’t believe there are 200 Klan members in Fulton County.
King said he fears this will hurt the city’s reputation for years to come.
DeSantis, who has adopted two children originally from Ethiopia, said his children were welcomed in the Gloversville community including in the Gloversville Enlarged School District where they graduated from.
“They were not only tolerated, but embraced by this community. So, Gloversville is a welcoming place by and large,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis there are always people who are on the fringes and that is what this story represents, the people on the fringes. He said he feels the series has magnified their point of view and could empower people who feel that way.
King, DeSantis and Weiss sat down with a Leader-Herald reporter after the meeting to discuss their thoughts on the three-day series and what the city and its residents can do now.
DeSantis said he feels the type of speech that incited violence against others is un-American.
“I think the thing that we need to do, is this whole community has to speak up with one voice that we will not tolerate this type of bigotry against a group because of race, religion, ethnic origin it is absolutely contrary to the fundamental principals of our democracy, and it cannot be tolerated,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis stated that he has “every bit of faith in the world” that Gloversville will not tolerate hate.
“The vast majority of people who live in Gloversville are not bigoted,” DeSantis said. “[The hate] is just an opinion held by a very tiny group of fringe lunatic.”
When asked why hate focused on race, religion, sexual orientation and ethnicity seems to be more in the light during the past year or so, King said he feels that people don’t stand up to this type of hate.
“Everybody gets a trophy and we are quick because we don’t want to offend anybody. But in turn, we allow people to say what they are going to say without any repercussions. Everybody has a voice,” King said. “Unfortunately there are less people that say things and less people that do things.”
King said he believes this story should not have been done the way it was, stating he feels it gave a platform to “four people to recruit and say ‘We’re here’ and they’re bigger than they are.”
Weiss said she feels like there will be consequences for the KKK, the people they are targeting and The Leader-Herald
“I don’t think any of it is good,’ Weiss said.
Both King and Weiss said they are concerned about what the news could do to business prospects in the community.
King said he would like to see the chamber of commerce do a conference with the media to “say we are an inclusive community, we don’t stand for any of this KKK stuff in Fulton and Montgomery County.” King said local businesses hire people from all walks of life.
King said they were going to look at possibly passing a local ordinance or law against distributing hateful materials or peddling without a permit.
“We will certainly look into that,” King said.
DeSantis said he would like to see the community stand up in the face of hate and loudly announce that it is not welcomed here. He said he has seen bumper stickers and posters stating “Hate Has No Home Here.”
“I would love to see the whole city, every business papered with those bumper stickers and posters,” DeSantis said. “I would love to see this community react to this in a positive way by emphasizing how welcoming we are. That would be a very positive reaction.
King said he would like to see other Fulton County leaders speak up and say that hate is not welcome here.
“My job as the mayor is to set the climate for tolerance, and I think that we are doing that,” King said.
King said he feels positive feeling about the city have been on the increase in the past few years.
During the conference, King announced the city is planning an event later this month against hate. King said he is also working to secure a facilitator and hold a large meeting later this month, stating he won’t ignore issues with race relations in the city.
“We do have discrimination. We do have incidents of racism in our community. However it is not like this,” King said.
King said he would like to see the community come together as one to speak out against bigotry.
“It’s showing signs of unity, whether it is a bumper sticker, just showing that we are all together. I think that is something that is front page worthy,” King said.
DeSantis said he would like to have T-shirts and pins to give out to people and King said he would like to see the city come together to take a stand against hate and bigotry.
“You’ve got four people coming out and saying their part of this, versus 7,000 or more…I think it could have a huge impact,” King said.
Kerry Minor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.