ITHACA, N.Y. –– Two protesters were arrested outside the Ithaca Police Department headquarters Sunday evening, after activists occupied the block of Clinton St. for over an hour and spraypainted graffiti on the street and on the police building itself. These are the first arrests made in over four months of protests.
Both protesters arrested declined using their names, one being a 15-year old and the other citing privacy concerns. After detention by law enforcement for less than 45 minutes, both suspects were released. The 15-year-old, after being released into a legal guardian’s custody, was charged with “making graffiti” and the other, according to police, with “criminal mischief.” Both are set to appear in court later this month.
Second arrest was just made for “criminal mischief” pic.twitter.com/j4nNbfa2tx
— Anna (@alittlelamb8) October 11, 2020
There was also a third attempted arrest of a subject who fled police on foot. IPD officers gave up their chase of the suspect and they went free. It is unclear if police will pursue a warrant.
Police Chief Dennis Nayor declined to give further details on the arrests, but did say the graffiti was a cause for police involvement. Notably, neither subject arrested was personally involved in the vandalism.
Police on the scene were again taking pictures of protesters, as has been the case in recent weeks. It is unclear if those photos are being used for investigative purposes.
However, as tensions with both counter-protesters in Ithaca, and with law enforcement themselves appear to be on the rise, activists alleged on Sunday that police have begun investigating individual protesters, including visiting those protesters’ homes.
IPD has not returned the Ithaca Voice‘s request for comment on the nature of those investigations.
There were several police cars parked up Clinton St. for the duration of Sunday’s action, and at one point in the evening two State Police vehicles were spotted driving by the scene, but no state law enforcement ever interacted with protesters.
In the hours leading up to the arrests, protesters were both practicing and discussing cohesive marching formations and briefing the group of weekly ralliers on what to do if a dangerous situation arises during an organized action.
One protester, asking to go by Ray, expressed concern over the kind of offense it takes for police to start making arrests.
“We’ve been doing the same thing for months –– we used wax the last time, and they did not do this. We’ve used many medias to shed light on what’s going on,” she said. “They showed and expressed very well today that they’re not here for the people, they’re here for the property and that’s all.”
This is not the first act of vandalism to occur to IPD headquarters over the past few months of protests –– a candlelight vigil back in August ended with attendees pouring wax onto IPD’s driveway, and in September, protesters burned the department’s American flag.
Additionally, as the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association pointed out in an Oct. 1 Facebook post, messages in protest of IPD have been tagged with spray paint in front of the HQ sporadically throughout past months.
After continuing to occupy the street following the release of the two arrested, protesters made their way back to the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Commons, before dispersing.
Editor’s Note: The embeded tweet in this story incorrectly states why the second arrest was made. No arrests were made for criminal mischief.