“So wisdom will always prevail over this. I’ll also say that tolerance will always prevail over hate. Courage will always prevail over fear. And the pen will always prevail over the knife.”
Governor Kathy Hochul spoke those words at Chautauqua Institution‘s Hall of Philosophy Sunday following a tumultuous few days after the attack on author Salman Rushdie at the Amphitheater.
Hochul, joined by Institution President Michael Hill and County Executive PJ Wendel, said Chautauqua Institution stands for the values of education, free speech, and inclusion, “New York State will always stand up to protect freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and we condemn the cowardly attack on Salman Rushdie. And we condemn any individual, or any group, that dare violate the sanctity of a place like Chautauqua, to attempt an assassination on a world leader. That cannot happen in New York.”
Hochul said she had the chance to meet with the staff and people who assisted when Rushdie was attacked on Friday just before he was to deliver a lecture at the Institution. She also was able to meet with the State Trooper who arrested the suspect, Hadi Matar.
Chautauqua Institution President Michael Hill said at Friday’s press briefing that this is an incident unlike anything in the institution’s nearly 150 year history, “We were founded to bring people together in community to learn, and in doing so, to create solutions through action. To develop empathy and to take on intractable problems. Today now, we’re called to take on fear and the worst of all human traits – hate. Our job right now, though, is to continue to support police and others. To be a resource for Mr. Rushdie and Mr. Reece’s family and to begin to imagine a pathway to healing.”
Rushdie remains in critical condition at Hamot Medical Center in Erie, Pennsylvania, where he is continuing to receive treatment.
The family released a statement on Twitter saying the author was able to be taken off a ventilator Saturday and had been able to speak a little. According to his agent, Rushdie may lose an eye, has nerve damage to an arm, and that his liver was damaged after the stabbing attack on Friday. The other speaker at the event, Henry Reese, was treated and released for a head injury that occurred in the attack.
Matar pleaded not guilty to charges of 2nd Degree Attempted Murder and 2nd Degree Assault at his arraignment Saturday afternoon in Chautauqua County Court.
Chautauqua County District Attorney Jason Schmidt said the 24-year old residents of Fairview, New Jersey is in the Chautauqua County Jail without bail.
Schmidt said in a statement that search warrants have been signed by County Court Judge Dave Foley. State Police had stated on Friday that a warrant was requested for a backpack and digital device belonging to Matar.
Schmidt said his office has also been in communication with agencies in New Jersey, where Matar is from, to share information and try to determine what kind of planning or preparation might have proceeded the attack to determine what, if any, additional charges should be leveled against Matar.
Chautauqua Institution has announced updated security policies for those visiting or working on the grounds for the remainder of the season.
New York State Police Superintendent Kevin Bruen said there will be an increased presence of State Police on the Institution’s grounds as well, “We’re going to do it in conjunction with the County Sheriff and in discussion with members of the Institution staff. Some of it you will see. Some of the commitment you will see will be in terms of uniformed troopers, troopers with K9s, and a lot of what will happen you won’t see. There’ll be investigators doing background work, threat assessments, and other sorts of things that we do.”
For those visiting the Institution, effective immediately, all gate passes and tickets will require identification. Sunday passes and will call purposes passes will now be issued as Ground Access passes, requiring patrons to provide a photo ID at the ticket office. Existing gate passes will be honored as is.
The Institution is also enforcing a “no bag” policy in the Amphitheater and at all indoor performance venues such as Bratton Theater, Norton Hall, Elizabeth S. Lenna Hall, Fletcher Music Hall and Hall of Christ. Only small clutches, wristlets, or fanny packs no bigger than 4.5-inches by 6.5-inches will be allowed.
Additionally, all building contractors must present identification matching with an authorized contractor name for Grounds access. Contractors may enter through any Chautauqua gate.
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