Charges dropped against detention camp protesters

Jul 24, 2019

A judge tossed out some charges, Wednesday, against nine people arrested in downtown Buffalo for protesting detention camps on the southern border.

Buffalo City Court Judge Amy Martoche agreed with the defense that the members of the Close the Camps Coalition did not engage in "tumultuous and violent behavior" and immediately dismissed the Unlawful Assembly charges against them. Their Disorderly Conduct charges will be dismissed in 30 days if they remain trouble free.

Sandra Steingraber, PhD, Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College was among the protesters arrested July 11, in downtown Buffalo.
Credit Chris Caya WBFO News

Afterward, Sandra Steingraber, a biologist at Ithaca College, called the judge's decision "a complete victory."

"It's an understanding by the courts that we are upstanding citizens. We are teachers and faith leaders, indigenous leaders, scientists, military veterans who have used our First Amendment right to speak out against a crime against humanity by our own government," Steingraber said. 

The group was among hundreds of people who protested the government's detention camps for refugees near Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices at Delaware Avenue and Chippewa Street on July 11. The nine were arrested after they blocked the intersection and refused police demands to leave.  

Jennifer Connor with Justice for Migrant Families WNY said the protests will continue until the camps are closed.  

"We can't stop until these unjust and unfair policies that are ripping immigrant families apart stop," Connor said.