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Albany Police Use Pepper Spray to Disperse Large Crowds, Fights in Pine Hills

By Meghan Brink | August 28, 2021

Story updated August 28, 2021 at 4:30p.m. and 6:50p.m.

APD attempts to break up fights on porch of a Hudson Ave. Residence

The Albany Police Department used pepper spray several times to clear large crowds and multiple fights that broke out in Pine Hills area early this morning, according to APD.

Seven to eight individuals were ticketed carrying open containers of alcohol. One individual was arrested for disorderly conduct after becoming unruly with officers approaching him for carrying open alcohol, according to APD.

The area on Hudson Ave. between Quail and Ontario St. were filled with 1,500-2,000 people last night, according to APD Public Information Officer Steve Smith. It is not yet clear what percent of these students come from the nearby universities, although students certainly had a role.

"At one point there was a fight," said Smith. "Our officers tried to break up the fight and prevent anyone from getting hurt."

Smith stated that pepper spray was used to break up the fight to prevent further injury.

The ASP has obtained a video from a UAlbany student showing an Albany police officer pepper spraying a young woman in the face outside of Hudson Ave residence after a fight broke out on the porch. The student who took the video declined to comment or provide their name.

APD uses pepper spray on a crowd engaged in a fight outside of Hudson residence

Before the crowds formed, Smith said APD approached many of the houses in the neighborhood that were hosting large gatherings and told them to turn down their music and for guests to leave. The Pine Hills neighborhood contains many residential houses in addition to the population of Albany area college student that live in rental housing in the area.

Another student who was in the Pine Hills area told the ASP that APD was patrolling from Quail to Ontario street, telling people who were attending large parties and mingling in crowds in the streets to “‘clear out.”

“They [APD] were not aggressive,” said the student.

At around midnight “there were five or six of them [APD officers] walking up and down the street. One officer had a red can in their hands that looked like tear gas or pepper spray. It was a slim red can," said the student.

UPD Officer Holds Can of Pepper Spray on Hudson Ave in Crowd of Students

Later that night at around 1:30 a.m. the student said he saw two young women pouring milk on themselves.

Milk is often used to relieve the burning sensation of pepper spray.

“These two girls were in the street, and I saw one of the girls pouring a gallon of milk onto the other girl. She then took the milk from her friend and was pouring it on her head and body and was screaming,” said the student. “She didn’t seem like she was in pain, she just seemed angry.”

Woman dousing skin with milk

The student said that during this time the police were ordering crowds of people to leave.

“There were still a lot of people on the sidewalks, but the streets were clearing, a car could go through if they wanted to. The cops came back up Hudson Ave.,” said the student. “There was a flood of people going towards Ontario as they left.”

Smith stated that pepper spray was used to break up multiple fights throughout the night and to clear crowds of people in the streets as well. He could not recall the number of time pepper spray was used by APD that night.

“We did deploy pepper spray to clear the street, it was successful because there were no other issues following that," said Smith.

The university has said that it is working with APD, city agencies, and other colleges to address the large crowds that have been seen downtown over the last few weekends.

"Given the ongoing risk posed by COVID-19 and mindful of recent violence in the city, these crowds are simply unsafe," said university spokesman Jordan Carelo-Evangelist. "Any conduct by UAlbany students that negatively impacts Albany neighborhoods and our neighbors will be met with swift and severe sanctions – up to and including suspension and dismissal.”

Carelo-Evangelist also said in a statement to the ASP that, "our Off-Campus Ambassadors were going door-to-door in midtown today to impress the importance of being a responsible neighbor upon students who live down there.”


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