On Friday, July 31st, 2020, Geneva Believer reported on comments made by Geneva City Councilor At-Large Frank Gaglianese on a video recording from an August “Back the Blue Ride and Rally” at Lakefront Park. In the recording, Gaglianese is heard wishing he had a “gun” so he could “shoot” and “kill” the participants of an HWS-hosted police accountability teach-in that took place one day prior, and referring to his constituents who support police reform as “minority…little squawkers who think their voice is being heard…it’s not.”
The Gaglianese murder fantasy article and video from Geneva Believer went viral, amassing tens of thousands of views (and counting) on multiple social media platforms. Over the next several days, Mayor Steve Valentino, the Geneva NAACP, the People’s Peaceful Protest, and the organizers of the HWS teach-in called for Gaglianese to resign.
Then, on the evening of Sunday, August 9th, a former Geneva Police officer was one of two individuals who posted comments on Facebook openly calling to “rid (our) community” of “trouble makers” by “send(ing) them to the emergency room,” and “how it happens won’t be pretty.” One of the threats even echoed the earlier comments made by Gaglianese – “the bear has been poked enough.”
Gaglianese Murder Fantasy Fallout – Timeline
August 1 2020
- The day after news broke of Gaglianese’s comments at the Back the Blue Rally, the councilor published an “apology” video during which he proudly displayed a blue line bracelet while reading a prepared statement.
“My grandpa used to tell me that part of being a man is owning up when you’ve done or said something you shouldn’t have.
I woke up this morning disappointed in myself, and I feel that I owe you all an apology.
When I watched the video clip posted online, quite frankly, I was embarrassed.
There is no excuse for what I said. I accept all of the anger that is directed at me, and I understand that there is a lot of people mad and angry at me.
To everyone who participated in the Hobart and William Smith Zoom session, fellow councilors, Genevians, my family, and from the bottom of my heart, I am truly sorry.
Please know that no one could ever be more disappointed in me than I am in myself.
I was elected to represent the people of Geneva, and I made a pledge and a promise, and my words that day didn’t do that.
I promise you all that I will work harder to be a better man, and a better representative. A man I can be proud of, and a councilor that Geneva can be proud of. And you all deserve that.
Thank you, and I am truly sorry.”
- The People’s Peaceful Protest issues a statement calling for Gaglianese to resign.
August 3 2020
- Mayor Steve Valentino issues a statement calling for Gaglianese to resign.
- During the city council work session, Valentino repeats his call for Gaglianese’s resignation, and Ward 4 Councilor Ken Camera publicly states his agreement with the mayor, becoming the first city councilor to publicly call for Gaglianese’s resignation.
August 4 2020
- The organizers of the Racial Justice Teach-In Series, which is co-sponsored by the HWS Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and the Africana Studies Program, issue a statement calling for Gaglianese to resign.
August 5 2020
- The Geneva NAACP issues a statement that is read during the Geneva City Council meeting calling for Gaglianese to resign.
The words used by Councilor Gaglianese were not a “slip of the tongue” or brought about by “frustration.” his words appear to be strategically planned, premeditated, preconceived, and placed such that his allies could hear across the state of New York. It is our sincerest belief that the words used by Councilor Gaglianese (in context) have become the “code” and underpinning language that supports the continual nurturing and sustaining of racism across our nation.
– Lucile Mallard, President, Geneva NAACP
- During the Geneva City Council meeting, dozens of residents call for Gaglianese’s resignation during a public forum on a Police Accountability Board, and during the public comment segment of the regular city council meeting.
- Councilor Frank Gaglianese, inexplicably and without any prior public comments on the matter, puts forth a resolution during the city council meeting. The resolution, which was the last item on the agenda, was read by Gaglianese shortly before midnight. Gaglianese’s “Resolution Recognizing First Responders and Frontline Workers During Covid-19” included a special thank you to the police department.
- City Council votes 5-4 in favor of scrapping the city attorney’s draft Police Accountability Board law in favor of using the law drafted by the People’s Peaceful Protest as a template moving forward.
August 7 2020
- After a complaint from a resident (who was also the person Gaglianese was speaking with when he confessed his murder fantasy on video), City of Geneva DPW crews are dispatched around the city to power wash sidewalk chalk art featuring variations on the phrase “Black Lives Matter.” City Manager Sage Gerling wrongfully informs the Finger Lakes Times that the inscriptions were done with paint, even though photographic proof and multiple witnesses confirm that temporary spray chalk was used.
August 9 2020
- Former GPD officer Mike Stivers and another individual, Jim Cocola, commented publicly on Facebook, discussing and planning vigilante violence against peaceful protesters, city councilors, and others, while suggesting that GPD is not expected to respond to calls against them. One comment echoes the words spoken by Gaglianese during the Back the Blue Ride and Rally: “The Bear has been Poked Enough!” The two men spoke about organizing others to “rid (our) community” of “trouble makers” by “send(ing) them to the emergency room,” and “how it happens won’t be pretty.” The FBI and other authorities are reportedly contacted by numerous community members.
August 10 2020
- Former City Councilor and current member of the Geneva Republican Party Committee Tony DiCostanzo states that the committee has “condemned” Gaglianese’s comments, although the committee had not issued any public statements on the issue. In addition, DiCostanzo states that the committee will not be asking Gaglianese to resign.
The (City of Geneva Republican) committee has condemned Frank’s comments…
Frank has explained his comments to the committee and at this time we believe his apology is sincere. We do not believe he is now, or ever has been, a real physical threat to anyone.
…we will not be calling in Clr. Gaglianese to resign.
– Tony DiCostanzo, Geneva Republican Party Committee
August 12 2020
The People’s Peaceful Protest issues a statement in response to recent Facebook threats by a former GPD officer and another individual, confirming that the threats have been reported to the FBI and that the city is working with protesters to ensure everyone’s safety during upcoming events.
Our community is very aware of the recent threats made toward the PPP. The PPP has made all the necessary calls, and is working internally and with the city on safety measures for all upcoming events. That said, the people making threats have been identified and all proper authorities have been notified, including the FBI. We must always show strength in the face of injustice. We must be courageous against cowardly threats. We will continue to speak truth to power and demand accountability! We need to stand together against these subversions of democracy and attempts to sow division! Stand with the PPP, as one united community, #GenevaStrong, AND LET’S HAVE A DANCE PARTY BBQ PROTEST ON THURSDAY!
Together we will be the change we want to see.