Policing in the Hudson Valley | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Policing in the Hudson Valley 

A Window into the National Issue of Excessive Force and Community Policing

Last Updated: 04/26/2018 1:57 pm

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Shakur always carries voter registration paperwork on a clipboard, in the hopes of raising Newburgh's voter turnout rate. He estimates he's helped over 3,000 people register. That's one reason people say Shakur is the unofficial Mayor of Newburgh. In fact, Shakur has run for both mayor in 2011 and Orange County Legislature in 2017, with narrow losses. Shakur grew up going to City Council meetings with his mother, a former Black Panther. When his son was killed, he thought, "If it's a choice between vengeance or justice, I want justice."

click to enlarge Omari Shakur outside Community Voices Heard, a member-led multi-racial organization that builds power to secure social, economic and racial justice for all, in Newburgh.
  • Omari Shakur outside Community Voices Heard, a member-led multi-racial organization that builds power to secure social, economic and racial justice for all, in Newburgh.

Newburgh's police chief retired in 2013, and the city has been without one since. Shakur worked to create a relationship with Acting Chief Daniel Cameron. They had each other's cell phone numbers, and Shakur says they had an understanding that they wanted to work together to solve issues of gang violence, drugs, and police shootings. When he ran for mayor, Shakur's platform was for increased job training and employment opportunities for young people. Shakur thinks that rather than putting people in jail for $70,000 a year, Newburgh should give them jobs. "Somehow, we have turned Newburgh into a warehouse for the prison system," Shakur says. "We gotta take the business out of poverty."

But Shakur is optimistic. He says that as a result of the misery and violence that's happened, the city has become closer. "Newburgh's at a turning point right now. We're trying to rise, we've just got a couple things to put in place." Like getting a permanent police chief. In February, Doug Solomon was sworn in as Newburgh's provisional police chief, pending an upcoming exam. Solomon has said he wants to build on the city's initiatives—the Group Violence Intervention program and the Youth Police Academy.

A Tasing in Kingston

Growing up, Fabian Marshall split his time between Woodstock and Kingston. In 2015, he was living in Midtown, near his mother's art gallery, Broadway Arts. He wanted to be part of the rap scene and near his girlfriend, and he was working at a restaurant. According to Marshall, he sometimes gets stopped by the police when they are looking for a black suspect. "In Woodstock, there were like a total of five black people," Marshall says, so he could understand why he, one of the only black people, was frequently questioned during police investigations. Usually, a conversation would clear up his involvement or lack thereof.

One day in Kingston, while waiting for a ride to work, he was approached by Police Officer Jeremy Arciello, who was investigating an argument that happened earlier that day when a black man in red shorts pushed someone off a bicycle. By the end of their interaction, Marshall was handcuffed, tased multiple times, and arrested.

In a video from Marshall's cellphone and KPD-released dashcam footage, which was edited together by Citizen Action of the Hudson Valley, Officer Arciello is seen accusing Marshall as he approaches him. The situation escalates quickly when Marshall asks for clarification of what Arciello is investigating. When Marshall starts to film their interaction on the phone he's holding, Arciello handcuffs him and is seen smashing the phone into the pavement. It keeps recording Marshall's screams as he is tased, by Citizen Action's count, 21 times. Marshall wasn't counting, but he says he had at least 16 taser holes in his legs afterward. At the end of the video, officers are heard telling each other to get rid of the phone, and the incident prompted a question from community members: Even if he had pushed someone off a bicycle (which Marshall was cleared of any involvement in), is multiple tasing warranted?

New York State has a three-tase limit, but officers have the discretion to go over that limit and use whatever other tools are necessary to gain compliance. New in Kingston this year is the acquisition of bodycams. Though the city is still determining logistics of collecting and reviewing all the video collected, each shift supervisor will be required to randomly audit patrol footage.

According to the website of Campaign ZERO, a police reform campaign proposed by activists associated with Black Lives Matter, "Police usually investigate and decide what, if any, consequences their fellow officers should face in cases of police misconduct. Under this system, fewer than 1 in every 12 complaints of police misconduct nationwide results in some kind of disciplinary action against the officer(s) responsible."

The original print version of this article was titled:
"A Question of Force: Policing the Hudson Valley"

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