Protests continue throughout Hudson Valley
Jun 01, 2020 6:33 am
Albany, for the second night, and Schenectady, for the first time, forced citizens into their homes with night time curfews on May 31 because of widespread protests about the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Schenectady's curfew is from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., and continues through June 5. Albany so far is announcing curfews night-by-night, and the May 31 alert was for 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. The City of Hudson did not implement a curfew but Mayor Kamal Johnson requested residents to go inside at 8:30 p.m. "I’m asking people to go home by then on their own. Hold our community accountable for each other," he wrote on Facebook. Several hundred people turned out for a protest Johnson organized on Promenade Hill Park, despite the pandemic regulations against large gatherings. “We just want to make sure the community feels heard, and also that our police understand that this isn’t just about them, but it is about us being heard and us all doing a better job for our community,” Johnson said at the large gathering where there were lots of masks and space between people. There were two models for how police across the country reacted to protests against their repeated killing of black citizens. In Hudson and Schenectady, officials worked with protesters to let them have their say. Schenectady Police Chief Eric Clifford was at first chastised at a rally there for not meeting with protesters, but later in the day May 31 he took a knee with protesters behind the police station, in the style of NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Schenectady police also held hands and marched with protesters on Sunday. But things went differently in Albany, where Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins was not present for the protests May 30 that included police and protesters engaging in questionable behavior. On Twitter, the Times Union Editor Casey Seiler wrote that Hawkins admitted he was not in Albany May 30, but refused to say where he was or why he was absent. "I had other business. I was communicating all day with my command staff," he said. Hawkins returned to a mess in his city. The Times Union said that, after a peaceful afternoon of marches, the night time protesters were aggressive toward police officers, and committed vandalism and looting. The Upper Hudson Green Party, on the other hand, condemned the police use of force against protesters, "which seemed to include police hurling objects at protesters from the roof of the South End Police Station, as well as tear gas, rubber bullets, and pepper spray." Hawkins hinted that the late-night protesters in Albany came from elsewhere, a claim that turned false in Minneapolis once journalists got access to arrest records. The national Green Party Tweeted that, "Albany officials would rather lie about outside agitators rather than admit the fault of the police." Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said 82 members of his department helped the city of Albany police May 30. "This set us back years,” Apple said. “What happened in this county, this city last night was despicable."