Mayor slandered me, says Shabazz

Ismail Shabazz. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Ismail Shabazz. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Ismail Shabazz, one of three candidates in next month’s Democratic primary for the Fourth Ward’s Common Council seat, this week angrily denied Mayor Shayne Gallo’s claim that he’s a racist and said he plans to sue the mayor for slander.

“I challenge him to prove it,” Shabazz said in an interview Monday, reacting to Gallo’s assertion in an Aug. 15 Kingston Times story that the lifelong Kingston resident and longtime community activist who says he’s a supporter of the New Black Panther Party, is a racist. Shabazz says he wants the mayor, in a public forum, to substantiate his allegation and that Gallo is making “foolish statements” as Shabazz has several white people in his family. “He needs to start thinking before he opens his mouth,” Shabazz said of Gallo. “He hasn’t heard me say a thing about him. … Put up or shut up.”

Shabazz has been an incessant critic of the mayor, the Kingston Police Department and specific KPD personnel on his Facebook page, which also contains a constant stream of images related to the New Black Panther Party. While the New Black Panther Party, which claims to follow in the footsteps of the radical Black Panther Party of 1960s fame, is considered to be a hate group by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League, Shabazz, who is a paralegal, says he supports the party and he believes “in what they’re trying to do for our youth.”

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In a Wednesday conversation, Gallo stood by his characterization of Shabazz. “Quite frankly, I am too busy governing and addressing issues throughout the entire city to give [Shabazz] any time to discuss what the facts are,” said Gallo. The mayor said he based his statement on Shabazz’s Facebook posts, in which he, according to Gallo, called Gallo “Mayor Whitey and Mayor Slavemaster.” (A review of Shabazz’s Facebook wall going back to July 2012 could not corroborate Gallo’s statement.) The mayor noted that Shabazz had been banned from posting on the Kingston Police Department’s Facebook page due to, the mayor said, Shabazz drawing “racist analogies” about Chief Egidio Tinti and himself. (Shabazz, who has routinely leveled charges of intimidation and bad policing practices against KPD officers on Facebook, said “they banned me off the page because of the truth” and pointed to his efforts last year to honor 16 former African-American KPD officers as proof he does not hate all police, just the bad ones.)

The mayor said Shabazz was drumming up a controversy to gain attention for his campaign. “This is nothing more than attempt by Shabazz to get ink for his campaign which has no support and is not addressing the issues that affect the good people of Midtown,” said Gallo.

Mayor Shayne Gallo. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Mayor Shayne Gallo. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Shabazz and Gallo have also clashed on educational programs at the Everette Hodge Community Center. Shabazz said Gallo has tried to shut them down and deny the kids that depend on the center the education they deserve. That’s a charge the mayor sternly denied, pointing to his obtaining of a $25,000 grant from the AT&T Foundation for at-risk high school students and his setting up of a program which brings SUNY New Paltz students of color to the center to mentor at-risk kids. He further said he got Community Development Block Grant funds for a reading program formerly funded by the Boys & Girls Club. “For Shabazz to state I am trying to keep black kids from getting an education at the center is not only folly, but delusional on his part.”

As for Shabazz’s threat to sue the mayor for slander, Gallo, an attorney himself, said the following: “It’s opinion that’s grounded in fact and it’s opinion about someone who’s a public figure running for office,” Gallo said.

In Sept. 10’s primary, Shabazz will be up against Nina Dawson, a political newcomer who enjoys Gallo’s endorsement, and Nick Woerner, the former Town of Ulster supervisor who enjoys the Kingston Democratic Committee’s endorsement. The winner will in the general election face Republican nominee, Red Dog Party founder and former mayoral candidate Steve Ladin.

Shabazz said both Dawson and Joe DiFalco, Kingston’s Independence Party chairman, asked him to drop out of the race earlier this summer.

Dawson, speaking Wednesday, sees it differently: “I asked him, ‘Why reinvent the wheel? We’re reinventing the wheel.’ I said you have very strong points, and instead of us reinventing the wheel and doing separatism, why don’t we put our heads together and do it like that? Then he said, ‘Why don’t you drop out? I said, ‘Because I think you’re too radical, I think you’re too strong in your opinions and the way you present them and I think that will hurt us. … I told him to drop out and he told me to drop out. Same difference. He’s helped a lot of people in our neighborhood and I hoped we could join up instead of being in the position that we are because separatism doesn’t work.”

DiFalco challenged Shabazz’s accusation, saying Shabazz one day saw him circulating nominating petitions for Dawson, and asked DiFalco how he might help. DiFalco said he responded by suggesting Shabazz get behind Dawson’s campaign, and said Shabazz agreed to do so. But, according to DiFalco, Shabazz then decided to go to the Board of Elections and get his own petitions.

Nina Dawson. (Photo: Dan Barton)

Nina Dawson. (Photo: Dan Barton)

“I said to him, ‘You told me that you wanted to help her. You can’t help her by doing this.’ I asked him, ‘Why don’t you unite with her with the common goal of moving the ward forward?’ Anything you heard other than that is BS. … Back when he said he was running, I wished him luck and told him, ‘You’re not going to win.’”

“I don’t think he’s a racist,” Dawson said of Shabazz, adding that she thought he had “very good intentions.”

“I don’t know where that came from,” she said. “I know that he and the mayor have had something going for quite some time, but I would never call him a racist. … I don’t see that in any capacity.”

There are 12 comments

  1. Tim Halpin

    Are we serious, this is a three ring circus , not a political campaign. On one hand we have a obstructionist in every sense of the word ( Gary Falkner ) on the other side is a candidate that has judgements against him from local businesses that he has ripped off all in a climate that the entire city needs attention. With these clowns taking senter stage how can ANYTHING get accomplished.

  2. NotSaying

    Not a fan of the Mayor at all and thing Gallo has made some HUGE blunders, BUT….
    Having personally seen some of the things that Mr. Shabazz has posted publicly, heard some of the things he has said, known actions and situations and people that he has supported, and KNOWN that he has directly lied before… it is very clear that Mr. Shabazz does NOT put ANYTHING done by a white person on an equal footing. He has called “racism” many, many times when it was clearly NOT the case and THAT is reverse racism. While I will not be so ignorant to say that racism does not exist, when you LOOK for it and make it an issue when it is not, then people like Mr. Shabazz are not helping solve anything, but rather, are contributing to the problem.
    He does NOT play well with others and personally, I feel would be a detriment to be put in position of power in our City.

    1. Hannah Westcoast

      I have seen some things of Mr. Shabazz. If anyone is racist I would say it’s him. I am no longer a resident of Kingston yet have seen the Gallos and Shabazz’s in my area (Petaluma, California). Folks – perhaps it’s time to vote for a republican or an Independent. That way most likely something will get accomplished.

      Kingston needs a business-minded person who can understand accounting, tourism, and what will make the area blossom. It won’t happen overnight. But please enough of the do-nothing anti-team players.

      1. ANTHONY

        THAT WAS A FAIR AND RESPECTED REPLY. I VE KNOWN Mr Shabazz since High school and I know what is in his heart/ this man is not a racist

  3. Allison Gray Teetsel

    Racism describes patterns of discrimination that are institutionalized as “normal” throughout an entire culture, based on an ideological belief that one “race” is somehow better than another “race”. It’s not just one person discriminating at this point, but an entire population operating within a social structure that is based on the systemic marginalization and discrimination against a particular group.

    With this in mind, there’s no way that Mr. Shabazz is racist. He speaks out against that which he perceives as injustice, and uses intentionally charged language to make a very clear point. The irony here is that many of the statements which are considered to be “racist” are in direct response to *actual* systemic, racist practices: for example, the racial profiling inherent in our nation’s “War on Drugs”.

    I think it’s also important here to point out that a person may be completely unaware of the racist implications of their actions, especially when they’re merely reflecting the way things have always been. Racism isn’t so much about the intent as it is the impact.

  4. Ismail Shabazz

    Joe is a lier because I never said that I supported Nina! I don’t think she knows the issues other then what Gallo wants. She did say I’m to radical and I told her that’s why the people asked me because they know I’m for the people not big business. Gallo and I fell out because he lied about doing something officer Fizgerald people but when he beat up a family member, said something to Gallo his reply is “what do you want me to do” your job and stop this mad man but it turns out he is not just a lier but has anger issues himself.

  5. John Lavin

    Ismail Shabazz is one of the most racist people in Kingston. I cant believe he has the stones to run for anything considering what he’s said in online pubic forums. If the fourth Ward is dumb enough to elect this kind of guy, they deserve what they get.

    1. anthony

      Lavin, you have “stones ” calling someone a racist, you are the one who is a racist/ you have no clue and like the people before you involved in that racist defunked Neighborhood Watch you need to take a step back. A person who has passsion speaking out against injustice,crime and political funding corruption..that person has “stones ” . Remember Governor George Wallace/ and so many other high profiled public figures that make public statements to never change the profiling of minorities/ were they not commended for voicing their stance.

  6. Ismail Shabazz

    John, like Mr. Morris said you are the racist along with others that have been saying racist comments on FB or police beat. My statement are against people like you who are the racist. Why is it when a black man or woman try to do something to empower there people, it’s racism! I’m challenged you and your friends to debate your claim but you failed to do it because you are cowardly sitting behind a computer saying foolish statement. You or anyone that commented on this article that claim I’m racist put up or shut up in a debate.

  7. Ismail Shabazz

    There have been comment that I was a criminal and should be in prison but I’m not! Either I was smarter then the police or they where dumb! People make mistakes but I guess when a black person does racist can’t forget it. The same people that for gave police officer Tim Matthews, who is in prison now for stealing it’s ok because he is a good man. That’s white supremacy and that’s what I fight against. Look up racist or racism and let’s debate.

  8. John Lavin

    Ah, Anthony and Ismail, how long has it been since we last danced around the truth together? Anthony, are you positioning to be the vice mayor? Haha. How I do miss our online squabbles. I would never set aside time from my family to debate any one with your history of behavior, statements, and bs political beliefs. I have better things to do now than waste my time on the likes of you guys, though I see you guys still have plenty of time on your hands, lol. Something tells me you guys will spend a lot of time on the defense over the next few weeks or until you run out of campaign money. Just wanted to throw in my two cents to my old home town; thought they should know… Good luck campaigning though boys…

    1. anthony

      Mr Lavin, I thought that would bring you out. I do have to respect your comments because its the American way . We did have some uncalled for battles over senseless comments made on each side and I offer my sincer apologies to you . I two just wanted to throw in my 2 cents to my old home town ; thought everybody show know/ Best of life to you my friend / sorry we got off to a rocky start .

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