Protesters billed for rally outside Capitol

June 08, 2018 07:10 PM

ALBANY - If you've ever wondered what it costs to pay 14 Albany Police officers about 30 hours of overtime, it's $1451.49.  The Poor People's Campaign - which has been rallying in downtown Albany for the past four Mondays - learned the hard way when it received a bill for law enforcement for the group's May 21 protest.

"There wasn't discussion about a bill for police services. They were not requested or agreed to and no agreement that the Poor People's Campaign would pay for them," explained the group's attorney, Mark Mishler.

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It's common practice, according to the police chief, when the needs of an event or rally end up surpassing what APD planned to provide. The department was aware the protest would occur, but didn't know the scale and officers had to stay past their scheduled shift to keep drivers pedestrians and the protestors safe.

"Unfortunately when they took to the streets, it took us by surprise and we were forced to maneuver and get officers (there) for street closures," said Albany Police Department's Acting Chief Bob Sears.

Sears added that if APD knew in advance the plan for the rally, that schedules could have been rearranged to ensure coverage and the Poor People's Campaign likely wouldn't have been billed.

"We don't have unlimited resources. We have tight fiscal restraints. We have what we need and not a lot extra," added Sears.

However, since the goal of the Poor People's Campaign is to make people pay attention to issues and circumstances that they might not otherwise, a heads up probably won't happen.

"We can't get change - it has never happened - if there isn't disruption and confrontation that takes place," maintained Mishler.

According to the city treasurer, Darius Shahinfar, after a first notice goes unpaid, his office follows up and then forwards the bill to the city's legal department for collection.

Mishler has already notified City Hall that the bill will not be paid. The Poor People's Campaign is planning to rally the next two Mondays.


Abigail Bleck

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