“I am most proud of the accuracy of the documentary,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher said many misconceptions and controversies surrounding the Black List still remain, 21 years later. For instance, he said, the debate regarding whether the police had the right to search the hands of every young black male in town.
On the morning of Sept. 4, 1992, a 77-year-old woman visiting a family just outside the city of Oneonta told police she was attacked as she slept and struggled with her knife-wielding assailant before he fled. Based on a glimpse of the attacker’s hand and his voice, she concluded he was black, and blood at the scene indicated he had been cut on the hand, police said.
“But this never brings into account that years later it was learned that Troop C manipulated evidence,” Gallagher said. “The elderly woman who was attacked never said the suspect had a cut on his hand, and the police K9’s trail actually headed downtown, away from the SUNY Oneonta campus. With these details put into light, it’s impossible to defend the tactic of inspecting the hands of every college aged black male in town. In my opinion, it no longer becomes a debate of whether the students’ rights were violated. Rather, it becomes a case study in futile police work.”
Gallagher said those who defend the actions of the police say the controversy overshadows the real crime, an attempted rape. But, he said, the woman who was attacked has stated that she believes the students’ rights were violated during the investigation.
And for those criticizing the police, Gallagher said, a widely reported anecdote that is frequently referred to is one of a student being dragged from the shower and questioned. However, he said, specific statements from students show that this claim was exaggerated. Gallagher said the truth is that the student’s resident adviser told him to come downstairs and speak with police regarding the incident after he showered.