ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Local Black Lives Matter groups continue to hold rallies across the Capital region on Sunday.
A small group of protesters sat outside the Albany Police Department South Station overnight into Sunday. Tents were set up, protesters were sitting around a fire outside of the station. Albany police officers still had Arch Street blocked off.
On Saturday, some Albany officers were standing on the station’s roof when nearly 100 protesters stood outside the station.
Protesters stood at the same location where Wednesday’s event happened, city officials called that event a riot. “We’re going to be peaceful,” says local protester Legacy Casanova.
Last Wednesday, a police station window was broken and bottles were being thrown at officers. Officers used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Despite video being shown from protesters and police, protester Legacy Casanova says they have done nothing wrong that day. They are demanding the officers who used force during the incident to resign.
“They don’t realize how much harm they caused the communities last year when they used tear gas and rubber bullets,” says protester Vacari Fox.
Community members are calling for the Albany Police Department to stop the use of force toward protestors. They’re asking city officials to listen and work with them on drafting policy.
In response to the demonstrations, Albany Police Department issued the following statement:
Currently, there’s legislation to ban the use of tear gas in the City of Albany. This legislation could be voted on as early as next week. However, some city officials including Mayor Kathy Sheehan says there needs to be amendments. She and other city council members are suggesting for officers to use that force under certain circumstances such as when a riot is declared, as defined by New York State law. The legislation could be voted on by the Albany Common Council as early as Monday, April 19th.
“I am really hoping for it to get banned and I know a lot of us are, but I don’t think a lot of people have hope honestly,” says protester Kat Reyes. Kat has been protesting since Saturday night, she says she’ll do what it takes to make change. “I plan to be the most obnoxious thing on the street. NEWS10 asked Peacefully? She replies, “Oh of course.”
According to city officials, in the last 32 years, tear gas has been used outdoors by the Albany Police Department only twice – on May 30, 2020, and June 1, 2020 – after members of the Albany Police Department were assaulted with bricks, Molotov cocktails, and fireworks, police vehicles were damaged, a police horse was burned, and police equipment was stolen.
“The Albany Police Department supports the right to peacefully protest but also has an obligation to the entire Albany community. Residents and visitors to our city must be able to safely access public streets, buildings and emergency services.
We remain committed to ensuring that participants in front of the South Station have a space to make their voices heard, but ask that they do so in a way that’s lawful and does not impact public safety or the needs of our community.”