Activist Ken Zeoli avoids 7-year sentence for now

Local activist Ken Zeoli avoided a 7-year prison sentence, at least for the moment, during an appearance in Troy Court today. Activists from All of Us, Equality for Troy and other local groups gave a muted cheer when Zeoli emerged from the hearing with his attorney Matt Toporowski. There was palpable concern among the gathered crowd that Zeoli could be made an example of given his recent treatment by Troy police.

Zeoli who is on probation was arrested last month for trespassing at a police precinct after demanding a complaint form and being ignored by officers there.

Zeoli was then violently arrested and alleges officers threw him down a flight of stairs and ignored him as he suffered a seizure in his cell. That incident led to a protest outside of the precinct that day.

Later that evening protesters clashed with Robert Spinelli who witnesses say tried to run them over. Spinelli’s car was damaged during the incident.

This past Thursday Zeoli was arrested again during what he thought was a routine visit to his probation officer for criminal mischief related to that incident. Activists want to know whether Troy PD is going to charge Spinelli and find it odd that Zeoli is facing any repercussions from the incident.

During today’s hearing the judge granted Toporwoski’s request to postpone the hearing until the District Attorney’s office reviews a 21-page report Toporowski submitted on the incident. 

Toporowski said he looks forward to hearing why the DA believes Zeoli, “should go to jail for the maximum term over a trespass violation when he should have just been handed a form.”

Ken Zeoli and Matt Toporowski take questions.

Zeoli’s quest for a complaint form stems from his work as an activist in Troy’s Barker Park where Troy City Hall removed benches and ousted a feeding program that serves the homeless.

Zeoli places chairs for the community to use but those chairs have repeatedly been removed by DPW workers. Zeoli also does outreach with addicts that frequent the park.

Asked by 518Independent whether Zeoli would continue his work Toporowski responded,

“I think that Barker Park has gotten lots of good publicity out of a bad situation. So there is some silver lining here. I talk to people in Albany and they know that people are doing good work in Barker Park and are pretty shocked that Ken was arrested for asking for a complaint form. I think the work will continue there.”

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