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Message from the chair: David Buchyn

Back the Blue 2020
Back the Blue marchers, from the Times-Union’s 2020 article.

As Chair of the Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee, I am appalled and embarrassed by the inflammatory statements made by a fellow party Chair at the March 19 meeting of the Saratoga Springs City Council. David Buchyn, Chair of the Saratoga County Conservative Party, used the bully pulpit of a public comment period to make a series of racist remarks that were clearly intended to thrown gasoline on the fire of a meeting that was already emotionally charged by the Public Safety Commissioner’s decision (rescinded prior to the meeting) to hire an ex-Troy policeman who had shot an unarmed Black man in his car.

Buchyn’s excuse was that he was just quoting BLM leader Lexis Figuereo, in a video Buchyn shot during a protest in August 2020. It’s worth looking back on the Times-Union’s report on that event, which happened soon after the murder of George Floyd at the height of the pandemic when there was not yet a vaccine and people were dying by the thousands. It was a time when tensions ran high, and that night they boiled over into angry exchanges when a group called Back the Blue rallied in support of the police and Black Lives Matter staged a counter-protest. The evening ended with the police using pepper-spray bullets to disperse BLM marchers.

The city released several videos to justify the use of the pepper-spray bullets on non-violent protestors. The Times-Union noted: “While some in attendance Thursday described racial slurs and foul language also being used by Back the Blue protesters, the city only posted videos that predominantly showed the words and actions of Black Lives Matter protesters.” One of these was Buchyn’s video, capturing angry remarks Figuereo aimed at a Black minister participating in the pro-police rally.

Figuereo later apologized on Facebook, saying “I used words I should not have and wouldn’t make that again….There are some words that are unacceptable. … We need to grow a world everyone knows justice.” Buchyn demanded an apology during his remarks this week, apparently unaware that Figuereo had already made one.

I have never met David Buchyn. If he was my friend or a family member, I’d reach out to him and tell him how hurtful his remarks were not just to those in attendance at the City Council meeting, but to any resident of Saratoga Springs who believes in the values of tolerance and living together in harmony. It’s clear that Mayor John Safford does have a relationship with Mr. Buchyn: he acknowledged him by name in his inauguration speech, and addressed him as “Dave” at the meeting. Mayor, please use your relationship to let Mr. Buchyn know how disappointed you are in his behavior and that the person who needs to apologize is him.

Otis Maxwell, Chair, Saratoga Springs Democratic Committee

Update: through a typo, Mayor Safford was quoted as calling his friend “Dan” in an earlier version of this message.