By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
Some 300 to 350 people attended the spontaneous protests at Centennial Circle on Sunday, May 31, estimates Glens Falls Assistant Police Chief Joseph Boisclair, who was at the forefront, with Chief Anthony Lydon away this week.
“We were pleased overall with how things went,” Asst. Chief Boisclair said. “People were able to get their point out, with almost no incidents.”
He tells The Chronicle that there was one arrest for disorderly conduct when “a couple of punches were thrown” by some participants in a group that had split off from the main protests. The person was issued an appearance ticket, Mr. Boisclair said. He said he did not know which group the person was involved with.
The gathering began slowly in the afternoon with a handful of people on one part of the circle holding Black Lives Matter signs, and another group waving pro-Trump flags. It went into the night, finally ending around 1:30 or 1:45 a.m. Monday.
By midnight, reports Chronicle editor Mark Frost, police had closed several nearby intersections to traffic and massed numerous police vehicles on Centennial Circle. Law enforcement offices stood in the street facing the crowd on the sidewalk.
Asst. Chief Boisclair said Glens Falls Police reached out for aid from assisting agencies including the Warren County Sheriffs Department, State Police and Hudson Falls police. He was the ranking officer on site, but the assistant chief said, “It was a joint thing. Ultimately it’s the City so it was my responsibility, but it was a team effort. We were all working together.”
He wasn’t sure how many law enforcement officers were engaged. “It pretty much increased as the crowd increased,” beginning around 6 p.m., he said, with enforcement groups still debriefing on Monday.
As to rumors of outsiders coming to instigate destruction, Asst. Chief Boisclair said, “We always monitor demonstrations or protests. We follow the chatter on social media. If there are people looking to cause problems we investigate that.”
“As soon as we heard the possibility (of protest and counter-protests), we reached out to neighboring agencies and they put officers on standby….
“We’ve had our share of demonstrations for quite some time now in the City.
“We expect our officers to be professional. We don’t expect them to engage in any negative stuff. Several meaningful conversations were had on both sides” during Sunday’s demonstration, Asst. Chief Boisclair said.
“We are expecting they will engage, and be polite and respectful, and they will keep people separated if there are opposing sides and they can’t get along. We expect to make it possible and safe that people can express themselves.”
Asst. Chief Boisclair said the department is working with organizers of a planned demonstration by supporters of Black Lives Matter downtown on Friday, June 5.
The City’s new demonstration law requires that formal gatherings expecting more than 25 people file an application in advance. “That’s a little complicated with City Hall closed right now,” Asst. Chief Boisclair said, adding, “There is room in the law for spontaneous gatherings as well.”
“Obviously, there is a lot going on out there right now. We are here as the Glens Falls Police Department to allow people to express themselves, as long as they do it legally. We have to support them and keep things safe for the community. The City has a responsibility to safeguard the City, and to keep traffic, pedestrian and vehicle, safe.”
Has there been any talk of a curfew in Glens Falls? “That has not come up,” Asst. Chief Boisclair said.
Albany imposed a curfew late Saturday night as a peaceful rally turned violent and buildings were looted. Monday night Albany police deployed tear gas and made nine arrests, said the Times-Union.
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