We Are Seneca Lake

A posting on the We Are Seneca Lake Facebook page by Schuyler County Legislature member Phil Barnes has drawn the ire of the group, which opposes the plan by Crestwood Midstream to store liquefied petroleum gas at a 576-acre site on the southwest shore of Seneca Lake in the Schuyler County town of Reading.

READING — A posting on the We Are Seneca Lake Facebook page by Schuyler County Legislature member Phil Barnes has drawn the ire of the group, which opposes the plan by Crestwood Midstream to store liquefied petroleum gas at a 576-acre site on the southwest shore of Seneca Lake in the Schuyler County town of Reading.

The We Are Seneca Lake group posted a photo of supporters holding a sign reading “We Must Safeguard The Planet For Those Who Follow” and urged people to participate in a Nov. 29 March for Global Climate Action.

On Nov. 18, Barnes posted the words “Remember Deer season starts Saturday.”

We Are Seneca Lake founder Sandra Steingraber of Trumansburg immediately posted a question to Barnes, asking him “what exactly do you mean by posting such a warning on this page?”

Last Friday, We Are Seneca Lake sent a letter to the eight-member Schuyler County Legislature.

“We are alarmed by a comment made on Facebook by Legislator Philip Barnes on November 18,” Steingraber wrote.

She included a screenshot of the Facebook page with the photograph, information on the march and Barnes’ comment.

“We feel threatened by Mr. Barnes’ warning and do not understand its intent. Regardless of what Mr. Barnes may have meant by his comment, we feel that his words may function as an incitement to others to consider violence against us,” Steingraber wrote.

“At the very least, Mr. Barnes’ words are highly inappropriate for an elected official who is sworn to uphold public safety. To joke about climate protesters meeting with stray bullets on social media in the wake of recent and ongoing events in Paris, is reckless and offensive,” she wrote.

The Schuyler lawmakers were told that “it is not credible” to We Are Seneca Lake members that Barnes “merely intended his words as friendly advice.”

“As we clearly noted in our post, we are marching through downtown Watkins Glen. Our route does not take us through the woods or in a rural area. Mr. Barnes could not possibly believe a reference to deer season is relevant to our plans,” Steingraber wrote.

The group asked the legislature to censure Barnes and asked that he apologize to the group and issue a public statement that makes clear he condemns violence, as well as the making of violent threats against peaceful protesters.

“We request that these actions be taken as soon as possible and prior to our march Sunday, Nov. 29.”

The group said it has taken steps to block Barnes from commenting on its Facebook page, hidden his comments to the group from other Facebook users, registered a complaint about his comment with Facebook officials, contacted the Watkins Glen Police, registered a complaint with Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn and registered a complaint with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

Steingraber said one person who felt personally threatened has also contacted the FBI.

Barnes did not respond to telephone and email messages seeking comment.

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