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Capital Region News

Albany Police And Protestors Clash

A protest in Albany Wednesday evening turned tense as Black Lives Matter protestors threw water bottles and yelled expletives at police officers and police appeared to spray some protestors.

Officer Steve Smith said Wednesday evening that a window at the department’s South Station had been broken.

During a press conference with Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan Wednesday night, Police Chief Eric Hawkins said officers were supporting the protestors during the afternoon by controlling traffic, but the situation devolved outside the department's South Station during the evening.

“What I am being told, there was a group that was within the group of peaceful people who engaged in some conduct that was unacceptable,” Hawkins said. “Provoking, attacking police officers. Breaking windows at the police station. At that point, we are compelled to take action. We are compelled to protect property, protect people.”

No arrests had been made as of Wednesday night. Sheehan said the station and officers need to be protected in order to respond to emergencies.

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Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins and Mayor Kathy Sheehan held a press conference Wednesday night following the protest.

Speaking with WAMC before the press conference, Albany Common Councilor Owusu Anane said the protest was held in solidarity with the "injustices" that occurred in Minnesota. A now former police officer in suburban Minneapolis shot and killed a 20-year-old Black man Sunday. Kim Potter, the former Brooklyn Center, Minn., police officer who shot Daunte Wright, was charged with second-degree manslaughter earlier in the day Wednesday. At the same time, the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is happening in Minneapolis in connection with the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

"As a council member, I want to make sure that everyone is safe," Anane said. "Everyone is protesting safely. Law enforcement is working with the community. It seemed like there was open communication. It seemed like it was a huge improvement from what happened last year, particularly bringing officers that look the community to have a conversation. Seems like there was a lot de-escalation going on, but still there are a few people really upset about happened. And everyone should be shocked to the core about what happened in Minnesota. We have to ask ourselves this question 'Where do we go from here?'" 

Floyd's death in the summer of 2020 led to clashs between Albany Police and protestors. 

Officer Smith said the protest Wednesday started with around 50 people in Townsend Park before the group started marching throughout the city with police controlling traffic.

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