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Sheriff: 9 arrested during NJ protest over ICE detainees

December 13, 2020 GMT

HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — Nine people were arrested during a clash outside the Bergen County Jail over the weekend between police and demonstrators supporting detainees in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody at the jail, authorities said.

The county sheriff said those arrested, eight of whom live in New York, were charged with offenses including obstruction of government function, disorderly conduct, aggravated assault on police officers and resisting arrest, NJ.com reported. All were issued summons and released, he said.

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“This only applies to some individuals, and many were there to protest peacefully and respectfully,” Sheriff Anthony Cureton said Sunday, noting that about 150 people had gathered for Saturday evening’s demonstration.

There have been months of protests at the Hackensack facility, which has long housed detainees, many of whom face deportation due to immigration law violations. Advocates have called for the release of detainees rather than their transfer.

Cureton alleged that some protesters hopped barricades, and some spit, threw bricks, used pepper spray or bit officers. NorthJersey.com reported that police used smoke grenades and pepper spray to move protesters. Cureton said officers did not use tear gas.

Videos posted to social media showed a chaotic scene outside of the jail as police struggled with and tackled some demonstrators, NJ.com reported.

Activist Lupita Romero said Sunday that police outnumbered protesters and she didn’t see anyone throwing bricks. “There weren’t any bricks around to throw,” she said at a virtual news conference hosted by the Abolish ICE NY-NJ coalition.