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Police: Arrest made in officer's injury at Albany violent protest; Curfew extended for Sunday night

Police: Arrest made in officer's injury at Albany violent protest; Curfew extended for Sunday night

Police: Arrest made in officer's injury at Albany violent protest; Curfew extended for Sunday night
James Vale (inset); A scene from Saturday night's violent protest (background)
Photographer: Albany Police (inset); Peter Barber/Gazette Photographer (background)

ALBANY - City police Sunday arrested a Delmar man they say threw a brick at an officer during Saturday night's violent protest in Albany, causing the officer a concussion.

James Vail, 21, of Delmar, was charged with first-degree riot, first-degree attempted assault, second-degree assault and third-degree criminal mischief, felonies.

Vail is accused of throwing  the brick at the officer's head at about 7 p.m. Saturday at the department's South Station on Arch Street. The officer suffered a concussion and had to be treated at a local hospital.

Police say Vail was also responsible for throwing a brick at the window of a marked Albany police car parked the  station, causing it to shatter, police said.

Vail was one of at least three people arrested as part of the evening violent protest that came after a peaceful afternoon protest of the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

Earlier Sunday, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan extended a curfew put in place after Saturday evening's violent protest in Albany. Sunday evening's curfew was set to begin at 7 p.m. 

"We're asking people to stay home so that we can have calm, so that we can have peace, so that people can be safe, so that we can take a deep breath and think about how we can come together and rebuild this city and rebuild this community because this is a city that cares," Sheehan said.

Sheehan spoke at a Sunday morning press conference outside City Hall that also included Police Chief Eric Hawkins.

They addressed what happened Saturday night at the police department's South Station, which Sheehan called a riot, not a protest.

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"I join our chief in solidarity and in understanding the pain and the suffering associated with what we saw happen to George Floyd and what we have seen happen across this county," Sheehan said. "And we saw protests happen peacefully across this country and similar to what happened here in Albany.

"And after those peaceful protests seemed to come to an end, violence erupted. That violence was not about a protest, that violence was about a riot."

Protesters gathered at the corner of Arch Street and Trinity Place for hours Saturday evening while city and state police in riot gear stood by in the parking lot.

The area took on a warlike atmosphere as protesters lit small fires in the street while fireworks exploded overhead and tasers crackled as the sky turned crimson before the light faded.

Police ultimately drove demonstrators off the property, cleaved them into two groups and pushed them out further on horseback. Individuals also threw rocks, bottles and bricks.

Images: Photos from Saturday evening's violent protest in Albany

Police Sunday cited one officer injured when hit by a brick. The officer went to the hospital for treatment and was at home Sunday recovering. Other officers were hit but not injured. Protesters were also hit by rocks and 

In all, two arrests were made Saturday night, both for property crimes, Hawkins said Sunday morning. Police are also "working very, very hard to bring those individuals to justice who did those disgraceful acts in this community."

Vail was arrested later Sunday.

Hawkins also cited "anecdotal" information that pointed to the agitators as being from outside the community, as in community members did not recognize them.

Hawkins also acknowledged he wasn't in the city during the unrest, but contends it didn't impact his response because he was in "constant contact" with his staff.

"I was communicating all day with my commend staff and giving direction the entire time I was there," he said. 

Sheehan defended the chief, claiming there was no lack of communication between him and his staff.

“I think leaders have other obligations before the crisis hit," Sheehan said. "As soon as things took a turn, he immediately returned to the city."

“Hindsight being 20/20, of course he would have been here," she said.

The violent protest at the South Station also erupted after the earlier afternoon peaceful protest had ended, officials said.

Sheehan also said that for the evening protest at the South Station, officers did not start in riot gear. "They put on that protective gear after rocks and damage was being done in the parking lot to police vehicles," she said. 

During the peaceful protest earlier, officers were not in riot gear, she said.

Sheehan also cited damage to businesses in the area. 

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