PHOTOS: Hundreds rally downtown in protest of border detention camps
Hundreds of people gathered at the intersection of Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street Thursday afternoon to demand closure of detention camps on the southern border.
Buffalo Police arrested nine people following a peaceful protest of the government's treatment of immigrants that blocked the busy intersection.
Beginning at noon, more than 200 protesters banged cowbells and drums as they walked in a circle in the intersection, carrying signs that said: "Reunite families now," and "Close the camps." Organizers said they were protesting the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions of migrant detention facilities along the southern border.
“It’s just outrageous. These are kids seeking asylum. Seeking safety, as refugees, from violence,” said Rev. Hope Harle-Mould.
City officials said the protest was unannounced and that organizers did not seek a permit.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer was called on to take action. Justice for Migrant Families Western New York Executive Director Jennifer Connor brought a letter to Schumer’s Office.
“He needs to do more. Every politician needs to be doing more to end the situation, and not just the camps but we’re seeing the whole immigration system as a campaign of fear against immigrant families,” Connor said.
Connor was one of nine people arrested on charges of disorderly conduct after defying police orders to disperse from the intersection.
Police Captain Jeff Rinaldo said there little in the way of leadership from the groups who organized the protest.
“In addition to the nine people that decided to lay down in the middle of the street, another hundred or so began walking in the crosswalk, blocking traffic. It was at that time, in consultation with the police commissioner that a decision was made to order those protestors out of the street. That’s a lawful order that can be given once a protest of this size and nature becomes illegal,” Rinaldo said.
Numerous related protests are taking place throughout the weekend in Buffalo, Amherst and Batavia.