The headline and story have been updated.
Ithaca police arrested six protesters and pepper sprayed many more outside of police headquarters. The arrests followed a demonstration against three arrests made earlier in the afternoon. All of the protesters were released by 9:00 p.m.
Officers arrested Massia Malki White-Saunders, a counter protester at around 4:15 p.m. toward the end of a Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) event on Meadow Street. The arrest came after White-Saunders had been banging the door of the Tompkins County Republicans storefront. Ithaca police charged White-Saunders with harassment.
Reed held a press conference earlier this afternoon outside of the Tompkins County Republican storefront to clean up graffiti after the contentious Oct. 16 Trump rally and counterprotest.
After White-Saunders’s arrest, counterprotesters marched to Ithaca Police Department headquarters, where officers arrested Genevieve Rand for obstructing governmental administration and Ingraham Dakota for resisting arrest.
Ingraham said he was not read his Miranda rights or told what he was being arrested for. He also said he was thrown onto his stomach by four cops, who continued to argue with him after he was in custody.
White-Saunders and Ingraham were held in police custody for 20 and 40 minutes, respectively, during their first arrests. But Rand was not released until 8:10 p.m. Protesters dispersed at around 9:10 p.m.
Sitting outside the headquarters, banging on the door and standing in the street, protesters waved signs that read “Who Watches the Watchers” and “Fuck Pigs.” They sang and chanted “Let Gen Go,” in reference to Rand. One protester made handprints with paint on the sidewalk outside the headquarters front door.
More protesters joined the dozen who protested the Reed event after the arrests and calls of support were circulated on social media.
Through the arrests, protesters continued chanting, “Protect each other” and “It is our duty to fight for our freedom.”
At 7:10 p.m., after roughly two hours of protests outside the headquarters, five police cars drove down Clinton Street, announcing through a megaphone that they had declared the demonstration an “unlawful assembly,” and told protesters that anyone who didn’t leave would be subject to arrest.
Protesters joined together and linked arms as officers reached into the group and arrested White-Saunders, Ingraham and four more protesters. The officers also deployed pepper spray on the protesters.
Ten officers then formed a line across Clinton Street and slowly pressured the protesters toward Cayuga Street, away from headquarters. The protesters regrouped on the corner of Clinton Street and Cayuga Street before returning to the IPD headquarters 20 minutes later.
Three officers stood guard at the front of IPD headquarters, and for 20 minutes, discussed proposals to defund the police with one protester, as others joined around to listen to the conversation. When more protesters returned and questioned officers about the delay in Rand’s release — Rand having been in custody for three hours on charges of obstruction — officers said she was “not cooperating.”
The officers refused to offer any more information, and Rand’s attorney, Prof. Sujata Gibson, law, arrived at the police building. After Rand’s arrest, protesters had called Gibson, who works for a local legal clinic and who has helped win over 300 dismissals against protest defendants to date.
The Ithaca Times initially reported that the officers used tear gas on the protesters, while the mayor’s and police department’s account noted that it was pepper spray that was sprayed on the ground.
After the second round of arrests, Rand was released. According to her account, an officer started a conversation with her when Senior Deputy Chief of Operations Vincent Monticello arrived and instructed officers to arrest her for preventing the officer from leaving the parking lot.
In a press release, the IPD wrote that Rand was arrested for obstructing governmental administration after the police sergeant was attempting to leave with lights and sirens when she blocked his vehicle.
While in custody, Rand said officers consistently misgendered her, pointing to the hypocrisy of their new LGBTQ liaison position. But she said hearing chants of “Let her free” from the protesters outside made a big difference.
“Officers put on nature sounds and put on earphones to drown out the protesters,” Rand said. “I heard them say, ‘They can’t stay out there that long.’”
Minutes after the release of the final protesters, Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 tweeted his thoughts on the event: “Left, right, or center, please do what you can to lower the temperature.” Myrick complimented IPD’s restraint over the last 20 weeks of protest, adding that “there is no need to fight in the streets.”
In a letter on Tuesday, Ithaca Police Chief Dennis Nayor wrote that the department “will not tolerate acts of violence or vandalism.” He added that he had 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 in front of the Republican storefront, or Ithaca GOP headquarters, on Meadow Street, IPD arrived at the scene but no arrests were made during the physical altercations and damages to property.
Andreas Psahos ’24 contributed reporting.