SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (NEWS 10) — What started out as a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest countering the Back the Blue Rally that was held in the City of Saratoga Springs early Thursday night resulted in unrest during the later evening hours.
A Black Lives Matter protester who wished to remain anonymous, said after the rally dissipated, the Black Lives Matter group remained peaceful, marching and chanting in the middle of the street in-front of congress park.
“It seemed as though things were starting to wind down, then a bunch of squad cars showed up along with a huge militarized vehicle with police in riot gear, and they basically all got out and all stood in front of us,” stated the protester.
She said that’s when she and other allies walked to the front, linked arms and prepared to get arrested.
“And then without any warning, the riot police started shooting pepper bombs and they threw tear gas canisters at us.”
According to a Facebook post from Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner, Robin Dalton, tear gas or rubber bullets were not used by the Saratoga Springs Police Department. The post added that no injuries have been reported, and that 3 arrests were made.
The statement, however, did not mention the use of pepper bombs. News 10 reached out to both Dalton and Mayor of Saratoga Springs for comment but did not get a response.
“All of the reports about nothing being deployed against us is just false,” said the protester. “They started it basically. They started shooting at very close range. I know that there was a young girl who actually got hit in the eye, and there was another guy who got hit in the head with a pepper bomb. It was pretty chaotic and brutal to witness honestly.”
In a press release sent out by the Saratoga Springs Police Department, the 3 arrests— including one juvenile, happened after protesters were asked to leave the roadway and move the protest to the sidewalk. According to police, the group’s leaders refused to move.
The City of Saratoga Springs and the Saratoga Springs Police Department say in a statement that they are always willing to talk and work productively with the community, and add that groups will no longer be allowed to shut down roads, as it puts people’s lives at risk.
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