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Albany police forcibly dismantle protestors' encampment at South Station

Apr 23, 2021 6:00 am

Eduardo Medina, Steve Hughes are reporting for the Times Union that Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Police Chief Eric Hawkins on April 22, ordered the forcible dismantling of a small encampment that demonstrators set up outside South Station. The order came eight days after protesters and city police officers clashed at that location. On April 22, officers threw a resistant protester to the ground, zip-tieing his hands behind his back, while another used a baton to bash camping chairs. Some police were seen with tape placed to obscure their badge numbers. Approximately two hours after the confrontation, a protester was put into an ambulance, but the severity or nature of the person's injuries was unclear as of Thursday night. At roughly 3 p.m., Hawkins declared it "is time to end this unlawful occupation.” He and the mayor tweeted out statements, but otherwise neither were seen all day. The forcible clearing was dubbed "Operation Save South Station" by police. Eight people were arrested on various charges including disorderly conduct, obstruction of governmental administration and rioting. Five received appearance tickets for city court. The others were sent to Albany County jail. “Protesters may continue to peacefully demonstrate, but they must do so in a space that is safe and lawful," Hawkins said. Sheehan backed the chief's decision to clear out the protesters. Before police moved in protesters were given 15 minutes to pack up their tents and belongings or face arrest. Once protesters were pushed away, a front loader and dump truck cleared out tents and other items to be thrown away. City Department of General Service workers hosed down the area where protesters had been setting fires to keep warm. City workers also used a ladder and a pole to remove a Black Lives Matter flag that was flying from an outside corner of the station. The police then placed more barricades around South Station, continuing to block traffic through the area at Trinity Place and Arch. State Police and Albany County Sheriff's officers were also at the scene. The New York Civil Liberties Union put out a statement around 5 p.m. that said in part: “There is no excuse for police violence against protesters anywhere in New York. Protests calling for an end to police brutality against Black New Yorkers should never result in more police brutality." At 8:30 p.m., Thursday, roughly 60 activists remained, behind a barrier with about a dozen state troopers guarding the station. Read the full story in the Times Union.

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