More than two dozen protesters have been released after being arrested in Hartford, Vermont. They were protesting recent raids by U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement in the area.
Hartford Police Chief Philip Kasten says 26 protesters have been arrested for the offense of Rioters Refusing To Disperse.
They filled up a crosswalk on Main Street for more than two hours Wednesday evening, and they refused to yield after police ordered them to disperse.
They, and dozens of supporters, chanted the slogan “Pass the ordinance”, among other things. The chant was referring to a proposed ordinance that would prevent the Hartford Police from arresting or detaining anyone solely on the belief that the person is in the country illegally.
Under that proposed ordinance, the Hartford P.D. wouldn’t be allowed to help federal authorities, like ICE, with civil immigration enforcement.
Town employees, including police, would also be barred from asking for or sharing information about anyone’s immigration or citizenship status unless a state law, a federal law or a court ruling forces them to.
“This is a challenging time for all of us,” Chief Kasten said. “We’re talking about people, and those tend to bring out strong emotions. It’s important for everyone to understand that this community is very much engaged in taking care of all the members of the community and our guests.”
Protest onlooker Bill Soule told us he didn’t recognize any of the protesters as Hartford residents. “This is a very heated issue, and I don’t think the town of Hartford should be used as an example,” he said. “This isn’t how we want to be put on the map.”
The arrested protesters were among the people who attended a rally Wednesday afternoon at the Hartford Town Hall. Rise! Upper Valley, an immigrant rights group, held the rally. Kasten estimated the crowd at the Town Hall rally at about a hundred people.
Because of that rally, the town hall closed early for the day. The town also postponed a joint meeting of the Selectboard and the School Board.