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Protests in Albany, and elsewhere, as nation awaits Chauvin verdict

Apr 20, 2021 6:33 am

Police, activists, and most citizens following the news this week are bracing for the worst, as the trial of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin went to the jury on April 19. In the past week protests have returned to many American cities, as video recordings of several instances of police brutality were released last week. Now, the officer who kneeled on George Floyd's neck for almost ten minutes last year will either be found innocent or guilty, and all sides are on edge. In Minneapolis, thousands of members of the National Guard are now patrolling streets, and schools switched to all-remote learning. The New York City Police Department stopped unscheduled days off for police officers beginning April 19, until further notice. In Philadelphia, Gov. Tom Wolf activated more than 1,000 Pennsylvania National Guard members at the request of Philadelphia officials ahead of the verdict. In Albany, there have been protests for several days, one where protesters broke a window, and were pepper-sprayed by police. After that, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan compared the Black Lives Matter protest at the police department's South Station to the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. That did not go over well, the Times Union reports. “To compare us, our protest for civil rights, to the attempted coup and overthrow of the United States government, is dangerous. It’s dangerous for the people who protest here. It’s dangerous for the people when they go home. That is dangerous rhetoric from the mayor,” said local resident and activist Matt Marshall. Two days later, on April 17, Sheehan apologized. “My comments referred to the physical actions of the use of violence to attempt to gain unlawful entry into a governmental building,” Sheehan said in a tweet. “In no way did I intend to compare the insurrection to the BLM movement or protests. I am sorry.” But Sheehan was unapologetic about her threat to veto a ban on tear gas use by police in her city. Then on April 19, the Albany Common Council tabled a vote on that legislation that would ban Albany police from using tear gas or rubber bullets on citizens, as council members planned amendments to weaken the bill.