NY officers clear encampment protesters set up outside police station

The protesters had been in front of the station for nearly a week; eight people were arrested on charges

By Sarah Calams

ALBANY, N.Y. — Eight people were arrested Thursday afternoon after protesting in front of a police station for nearly a week.

News10.com reported that Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins declared the department's intention to end the "unlawful occupation" of South Station before officers cleared the encampment site. The protesters were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct, obstruction of governmental administration and rioting.

On Twitter, Chief Hawkins posted a series of tweets, citing concerns from residents and police station staff as the reason for ending the occupation.

"We have heard the grievances of the protesters loud and clear. We have also heard the concerns from members of that neighborhood, as well as officers and non-sworn staff who serve from the South Station. For public safety purposes, it is time to end this unlawful occupation," he said.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan supported Chief Hawkins' decision on Twitter, writing, "I fully support Chief Hawkins' decision to end the unlawful encampment while providing space for peaceful protests that keeps our residents, workforce and protesters safe."

Chief Hawkins also tweeted that protesters could continue to demonstrate, "but they must do so in a space that is safe and lawful."

Initially, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) said officers used "aggressive tactics" and "tear gas against protesters while reportedly obscuring identification badges." However, the Albany Police issued a statement denying tear gas during the operation. Later, the NYCLU issued a revised statement, dropping the tear gas allegations, but still stating officers used aggressive tactics and obscured their identities.

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