“Say her name, say her name!”
That’s what nearly 100 demonstrators shouted outside the Ulster County Courthouse on Wednesday, November 4. They cheered Ulster County Judge’s Bryan Rounds’ decision to deny bail to State Trooper Christopher Baldner, who faces a second-degree murder charge in connection with the death of 11-year-old Monica Goods, who was killed when the minivan she was riding in with her family crashed after being rammed twice by Baldner during a high-speed pursuit on the Thruway on December 22, 2020. Baldner had pursued the vehicle that had Goods’ father at the wheel after it fled a routine traffic stop, and after Baldner expelled pepper spray into the car, according to the State Attorney General’s Office. The other members of the family survived.
Attorney General Letitia James secured indictment for Baldner on October 27 on charges of second degree murder, second degree manslaughter and felony reckless endangerment in connection with the fatal crash. The charges could carry a sentence of 27 1/3 years to life, Rounds said at the packed hearing.
Leading the demonstration outside was Rev. Kevin McCall who stood beside Goods’ mother Michelle Surrency and the family’s attorney Sanford Rubenstein. The demonstration was organized by Rise up Kingston with support from the New York Civil Liberties Union and Wednesday Walks for Black Lives.
“No justice, no peace, no justice, no peace” the pastor and civil rights activist shouted. “What do we want — justice; when do we want it — now,” McCall shouted, joined by the demonstrators.
“Everyone is gathering to make sure this murderer remains behind bars,” he said, as the protestors cheered.
McCall praised Rounds’ decision. “The judge did his due diligence for justice for Monica Goods,” he said. “This is a step in the right direction.”
Though while everyone can be happy, he asserted it’s not celebration time.
“It’s celebration time when we have that officer, former trooper, is getting 25 to life,” he said, as the audience shouted “that’s right.”
“That’s when he can bring out the candles and say kumbaya,” McCall said. “The courtroom was filled with racist bigotry of union representation who dare say that they offered their condolences to the family of Monica Goods but then struck the family in their face by raising money on behalf of former trooper Baldner,” he said. “We’re serving notice on you today, union president, that you are not to raise money to support this felon, this murderer, we will not stand by it.”
He praised the many New York City residents on hand. “When we don’t like something, we shut stuff down,” he said.
He promised that when Baldner returns for his hearing on February 18, 2022, he will bring busloads to shut down Kingston.
“Shut it down, shut it down,” the audience cheered.
He then introduced Surrency, likening her to iconic abolitionist, champion of women’s rights and Ulster County native Sojourner Truth along with Harriet Tubman.
Surrency held back tears as she spoke to the crowd, WABC, WNBC and WCBS cameras and reporters from area news outlets.
“I want to say thank you to everyone who came out today to support us and give justice for Monica and justice for Tristina,” Surrency said. “But I just want everyone to know we can’t give up our fight. He got remanded today, that’s where he deserves to be…My child doesn’t have the option,” she said. “My children no longer have a sister.”
Callie Jayne of RiseUp Kingston then spoke, telling the audience that they should not be standing here and Monica Goods should still be alive today.
“For too long there’s been a system that allows for police officers to kill black bodies,” Jayne said. “We have a system that does not value black girls and we have a mother, a family who’s broken and people have been silenced here.
“And we are fighting for justice for Monica Goods,” Jayne said.