Albany protesters say they're still not going anywhere

Jonathan Hunter & WNYT Staff
Updated: April 22, 2021 11:43 PM
Created: April 22, 2021 09:50 PM

ALBANY - While protesters were no longer camped out on Arch Street in Albany Thursday evening, they were still standing on the sidewalk making their voices heard.

They were standing near one side of the barricades while police were camped out in front of the police station.

They say they're not going anywhere.

Protesters say they're not happy with how police handled things.

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All of this started Thursday afternoon when police gave the protesters 15 minutes to move from Arch Street. When they didn't listen, police moved in and arrested many of the people.

Things got a little violent.

Once the street was cleared, DGS crews came to clean up the tents, chairs, and items from the encampment.

Many people were frustrated because they say they bought a lot of those items from the encampment. Some were also upset with how police moved in on them.

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins says he was put in a very tough situation. He says either way he was going to be criticized for his actions but says he had to do what was best for public safety. 

On Thursday, eight protesters were arrested in front of South Station. Two were arrested because of the actions that took place the night the glass window was broken. Hawkins said he let them stay for a few days as a way to de-escalate the situation. But he says they knew they would not be able to stay forever. They received complaints from neighbors. There was also a public safety risk with people camping out in the middle of the street. He says they saw burn barrels, propane tanks and there was some public waste. He says for the safety of the community, they had to move the protesters. The protesters were given a 15-minute warning. Hawkins says many people complied, but those who didn’t were arrested. 

“One thing that this was not tonight. This was not an assault on first amendment rights. In fact, what we did was carve out a place and allow a place for those who want to lawfully and peacefully exercise their rights to do so," said Hawkins. 

Hawkins says they are fine with people expressing their first amendment rights but have to do so in a safe and lawful place He is fine with protesters standing on the sidewalk. 

Hear some of the protesters explain why they were so upset by watching the video of Jonathan Hunter's story.


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