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Albany barricades police department's South Station

Apr 21, 2021 2:00 pm

Steve Hughes and Eduardo Medina are reporting for the Times Union the city of Albany fenced off the sidewalks around the city police department's South Station early Wed., Apr. 21. It was not immediately clear why the decision was made to put up the barriers five days after protesters began a sit-in in response to a confrontation that occurred last week. Department spokesman Steve Smith said in a statement posted to Twitter, "For safety purposes, the sidewalk in front of the police station must remain clear. We fully support the rights of individuals to peacefully protest but urge that it’s done in a way that’s lawful and does not impact either public health or the safety of our community. This morning, as part of normal safety protocols, barriers have been placed between the curb on Arch Street and the entrance to the South Station. For safety purposes, the sidewalk in front of the police station must remain clear.” The protesters have blocked off a portion of Arch Street and are camped out in tents. People have also written and painted on the outside walls of the station. In a live-streamed video on Facebook, protesters told officers that if they were going to attack or damage the station, they would have done so already. "...They’re now trying to open for operation but they say they won’t be displacing us," said Mikayla Foster, who videotaped the scene. Brandon Brown, 21, from Schenectady, said approximately a dozen police officers helped fence off the station. Brown said if officials want the activists to leave, their demands have to be met, including firing the officer who grabbed at a light and megaphone held by protesters, which resulted in a woman falling to the ground, a week ago. In an April 19, letter to Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Chief Eric Hawkins, Greg McGee, president of the police officer's union alleged that by allowing the protesters to stay, the city was knowingly jeopardizing officers' health. "The events currently unfolding at South Station have shown every member of this department that in your eyes we are expendable. As our leaders you have failed each of us," McGee wrote. Last week, a peaceful march protesting the death of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minn., culminated in a brief clash between Albany police and demonstrators at South Station, where officers deployed pepper spray and a window was broken by protesters. After city officials called the protest a riot, protesters commenced a sit-in on Arch Street, vowing not to leave until certain conditions were met. Read more in the Times Union.