OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - There have been street protests and yelling at city council meetings. Now there’s something new in Ogdensburg’s city hall battles: a criminal charge.
It was a rowdy council meeting on September 28. There was yelling, swearing, locked doors. And now it’s alleged something more: a firefighter hip checking the city manager to get in.
“He used a hockey maneuver to kind of blow through me to get into the door where he was quickly restrained by the police chief,” said City Manager Stephen Jellie.
We were unable to reach the police chief to verify that he did the restraining.
Documents show the case was turned over to state police, who charged firefighter Brian Kirby this week with second-degree harassment in the incident. His court date is November 2.
According to Jellie’s deposition to state police, he has a USB drive with video footage of the incident.
The union says this is just “par for the course,” for the city manager.
“I have a hard time believing that anything that happens from the city manager’s office at this point in time is not retribution,” said Jason Bouchard, Ogdensburg Professional Firefighters Local 1799 president.
The firefighters union was there that night to protest the city administration’s effort to make cuts at the fire department.
Jellie was at the front doors to limit the number of people who could enter. He said people outside were yelling to be let in.
“Just plain behaving badly and then rise to the level of using physical force to try to get their way, it’s really disturbing,” said Jellie.
Mayor Mike Skelly has said he might call for making the fire department an all-volunteer one. The union says the charges against Kirby are linked to all that.
“It’s just another effort for them to try to dismantle our department,” said Bouchard.
The union accuses Jellie of “baiting” union members that night. Jellie said entry at the front doors was limited to make sure there was appropriate social distancing inside.
The city may now launch a disciplinary action under its workplace violence policy.