Months of protests and rallies — following this summer’s police killings of Black Americans and heading into the Nov. 3 election — culminated in clashes at a rally last Friday. Rebuking what he called “acts of aggression” at the rally, Ithaca Police Chief Dennis Nayor warned against violence in anticipation of a second face off this weekend.
“Support for any position must occur peacefully and if any participant from either side has any intent other than peacefully demonstrating, then I implore you to stay home,” Nayor wrote in a media release, calling the violence at last week’s rally and counterprotest “unacceptable.”
On Oct. 16, counterprotesters shut down a Trump rally hosted on Meadow St. by Nancy and Jim Crawford of Tompkins County Republicans. Over the course of two hours, multiple fights broke out, and counterprotesters organized by Ithaca Democratic Socialists of America blocked traffic and set Trump hats and signs on fire.
Back the Blue Tompkins County will rally again on Oct. 24 at the Bernie Milton Pavilion on the Ithaca Commons in response to “anti-police sentiment both locally and nationally,” according to rally organizer Rocco Lucente, the 2019 chair of the Ulysses Republican party. The rally aims to show support for local law enforcement “who too often have been unfairly maligned by local politicians and the local media,” according to the event’s Facebook page.
Nayor wrote that there are indications more violence could occur at the upcoming rally and counter protest, and that the Ithaca Police Department has proactively coordinated with other local police departments to respond to any violence should it occur. Nayor declined to comment further.
While IPD supports the right to assemble, Nayor continued, it “will not tolerate acts of violence or vandalism.” He added that he has reached out to “organizers and affiliates from all parties” to discourage violence, but “cannot guarantee safety at non-permitted events such as protests.”
After incidents of graffiti on IPD headquarters at an Oct. 12 rally for Black lives, officers arrested a minor and Tompkins County resident Lucas Bonnet. Fellow protesters said that neither of these individuals were directly involved in the graffiti.
The Oct. 12 arrests of protesters were the first made in the 20 weeks of weekly Sunday rallies for Black lives. At the Oct. 16 demonstrations, IPD arrived at the scene but no arrests were made during the physical altercations and damage to property.