ALBANY — A North Country town justice has resigned from his post after state watchdogs determined he shared a provocative image of a noose on Facebook along with an edited version of a campaign slogan used by President Donald Trump, officials said Tuesday..
Kyle Canning, according to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, had served as an town justice for Altona in Clinton County since 2018. Canning resigned from his office after the state agency initiated an investigation and confronted him in May.
Canning, commission administrator Robert Tembeckjian said, shared a meme that included a photograph of a noose in February 2018 with the words: “IF WE WANT TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN We WILL HAVE TO MAKE EVIL PEOPLE FEAR PUNISHMENT AGAIN.”
Canning submitted his resignation letter to Altona Town Supervisor Larry Ross June 27, expressing regret for causing “inconvenience and hardship” to the town’s remaining judge and to the community.
“I feel as though, due to my current financial situation and obligations to my family, I am being coerced into resigning,” Canning wrote.
But Tembeckjian said Canning made an unwise decision when he posted the image. “The noose is an incendiary image with repugnant racial connotations,” Tembeckjian said in a prepared statement.
Contacted by CNHI on Tuesday, Canning said it did not occur to him that the noose was an image that some would find racially offensive.
Noting he is saddled with financial difficulties, Canning, a father of two, said he could not afford to hire a lawyer to represent him at the commission’s offices in New York City.
He said he viewed the Facebook post was intended to send a message he supports capital punishment. He also noted he is a Democrat, who does not support Trump despite the fact the meme included part of the Trump slogan “Make America Great Again.”
Ross said he was disappointed the state “came down as hard as it did on Kyle. He did a very good job for the town. There are a lot worse things going on with our government and no one is doing anything about those things.”
Altona, with a population of about 2,900 people, is just south of New York’s northern border with Quebec.
Joe Mahoney covers the New York Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org