SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga County District Attorney Karen Heggen announced Friday that her office will not pursue a violation charge against a Black Lives Matter leader “in the interests of justice.”
Lexis Figuereo has been charged with disorderly conduct stemming from a July 14, 2021 protest in Saratoga Springs during which he allegedly blocked traffic. Figuereo argued that the accusation is an attempt to silence his activism.
In a letter to Saratoga Springs City Court Judge Francine Vero, Heggen said the disorderly conduct charge “is supported by extensive video, photographic and eyewitness evidence,” but said his office does not would not pursue the case after the court dismissed the same charge against the activist. and Schenectady School Board member Jamaica Miles earlier this year.
“This court recently dismissed the case against another participant in the July 14, 2021 incident in the interests of justice,” the letter reads. “Given the court’s reasoning and decision in this case, we anticipate that a similar remedy is likely in this case. Therefore, my office has determined that the prosecution of this charge of disorderly conduct does not serve the interests of justice and, through this letter, we ask that the courts dismiss this charge in the interests of justice.
News of the dismissal comes a week after Vero dismissed two misdemeanor charges against Figuereo on April 15 for obstructing government administration for alleged conduct at Saratoga Springs city council meetings last year.
Heggen, in his letter, said his office had learned that “a broader investigation by an outside agency” into Figuereo predates the July 14, 2021, incident and that pursuing the non-criminal charge would interfere in this survey.
“We are further confident that continued prosecution for a non-criminal disorderly conduct violation may interfere with this broader investigation,” the letter states.
Figuereo’s attorney Mark Mishler, in a statement posted on social media, said the dismissal is a victory for his client and Saratoga BLM, but noted that questions still surround “the unconstitutional actions of the SSPD.”
He again raised concerns that the Saratoga Springs police were working with the FBI to investigate Saratoga BLM.
“People have the constitutionally protected right to protest without being targeted and threatened by law enforcement,” Mishler said. “Now, because the Saratoga district attorney and the SSPD realized they could not proceed, the district attorney agreed that all charges be dismissed.”
Figuereo was one of twelve people arrested in connection with the July 14 event, most facing minor charges. The arrests came a day after the Saratoga Racetrack closed for the season, drawing suspicion from activists.
Several of those arrested were detained for long periods and arraigned despite only being charged with offences.
The Saratoga Springs Police Department would later refuse entry to a group of protesters seeking to attend stops, a decision for which Police Chief Shane Crooks would apologize, citing miscommunication.
In November, the state attorney general’s office announced it was investigating allegations of civil rights abuses by Saratoga Springs police.
In a statement posted to social media, Figuereo reiterated that the charges against him were an attempt to silence him and that he plans to continue his activism with Saratoga Blacks Lives Matter.
“Everyone has the right to protest, the right to speak at city council meetings, and the right to voice grievances against local law enforcement,” Figuereo said. “This is a win not just for me and Saratoga BLM, but for our community as a whole.”
Contact journalist Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs