Community leaders working to ease tensions following removal of encampment

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Community leaders are working to mend relations between protesters and police following yesterday’s removal of demonstrators from an encampment outside Albany Police’s South Station.

“There was just no need for what happened last night,” said social justice activist Dr. Alice Green. 

Chief Eric Hawkins gave protesters short notice before removing them from the encampment. 

“There will be those who applaud the decision. There will be those who sharply and passionately condemn it,” Hawkins said. 

The demonstrators held their position which led to a number of arrests. Green said what’s missing between officials and protesters is an actual dialogue. 

“I situated myself in the middle and tried to carry on some kind of conversation with the police to make the point that that’s what we have to do,” Green said. 

Green said Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s office has reached out to her. Her advocacy group, The Center for Law and Justice, is drafting a letter with possible solutions to ease tensions.

“What we’ve set up is a situation of ‘Us versus Them.’ And I think that’s what the young people are saying,” Green said. 

News10ABC reached out to the mayor’s office for further comment, but did not hear back.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy spoke on the incident at his Friday morning press conference.

“I stand by the mayor,” McCoy said. 

The Albany Police Union also came out earlier this week pushing for the encampment’s removal. 

“Things were starting to escalate in terms of what we were seeing in there. It was being made very obviously that there was no intention to leave anytime soon,” Hawkins said. 

A small group of protesters returned Friday afternoon.

The neighboring Capital City Rescue Mission wrote a letter to the mayor’s office which described conditions of the encampment including urination and defecation on their property and deliveries that were prevented from being delivered.

A protester denies this accusation.

The city said it has not discarded any of the items moved by Department of General Services. This article will be updated with a place and time to pick up the items moved when that information becomes available.

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