'Close the Camps' Protest Shuts Down Part of Delaware Avenue

Nine protesters arrested

July 11, 2019 - 2:38 pm

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) Protesters gathered in downtown Buffalo in front of the ICE offices to show their unhappiness with what they call inhumane treatment of those at detention camps on the United States’ southern border. Part of the demonstration led to the closure of a part of Delaware Avenue. Police have begun arresting protesters.

VIEW: PHOTOS: Peaceful but Illegal Protests

Delaware was closed from Tupper and Huron Thursday afternoon as they sent a message to Congressional leaders and the Department of Homeland Security: close the detention camps on the United States’ southern border immediately. “We are here to demand action from our leaders,” stated Rachel Ablow, one of the protest organizers. "I am horrified to see history repeating itself and feel compelled to join many others, including Holocaust survivors, in demanding the closure of the camps. We cannot stand by while families are separated, children die alone, and people are dehumanized.” 

Around 2:30pm, Buffalo Police ordered protesters to disperse, giving them five minutes to leave peacefully. Once that time limit expired, officers began to make arrests. Protesters sat in the middle of the intersection of Delaware and Chippewa, in front of the local ICE office, blocking vehicular and pedestrian traffic. 

In all, nine protesters were arrested, as Capt. Jeff Rinaldo says the protest did not have a permit. "We attempted to speak to an organzier of the event, nobody would lay claim to being in charge of the event. We asked how long they intended to stay there, no one would answer or cooperate," says Rinaldo. "There were up to 150 people, and in addition to the nine people lying down in the street, there were more than 100 began walking the crosswalk, blocking traffic. At that time, the decision was made to order them to get out of the street."

Rinaldo says charges include unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct, and obstructing governmental administration.

Protesters specifically called on Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer to take action, citing DHS’ own internal report on the condition of its camp as evidence enough for closure. Prior to the event, a smaller group of protesters visited Schumer’s local office, occupying the office and reading a list of demands for the Minority Leader. “The Department of Homeland Security visited these camps in June and released a report calling the condition ‘dangerous’ and ‘a ticking time bomb,’” said Jennifer Connor, an organizer of the protest and Executive Director of Justice for Migrant Families. Connor continued, “We demand that DHS acts immediately on the advice of its inspector general and close the camps today, and that Congressional Leaders like Senator Schumer do everything in their power to see it happen.” 

Protester Whitney Crispell stated, “As a mother, it’s been difficult to see the images of children detained and suffering, and not think of my own. I am here today because there is no reason--none, whatsoever--that families and children should be treated this inhumanely.” 

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