Police: Protesters get in the way of another arrest

Burlington protesters march
Burlington protesters march(WCAX)
Published: Sep. 7, 2020 at 3:39 AM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Burlington Police say some protesters in Battery Park got in the way of an arrest over the weekend.

Police say they spotted a stolen car near the Burlington Police Department. They say Abdifatah Sheikh-Bile was blocking traffic and talking to the protesters Saturday.

Sheikh-Bile then drove into the station parking lot and sat on the hood of the car.

When an officer went to make the arrest, police say a dozen protesters surrounded the car and yelled at the officer to stop.

The passenger ran off, but Abdifatah Sheikh-Bile was eventually arrested.

Police say the protesters’ actions came close to constituting impeding public officers, a criminal offense. They say some protesters did try to keep the others from interfering with the arrest.

Police say this is the third time the group has obstructed them.

“This arrest was made much more complicated and fraught because people very nearly stepped over a line from lawfully observing to criminally impeding officers performing their duty,” Burlington Acting Police Chief Jon Murad said in a press release. “That kind of hindrance does not make anyone more safe— not observers, not officers, not the suspect. Some people associated with the protest did in fact make efforts to deescalate other protestors and prevent them from obstructing officers; I commend them, and hope that’s a sign of common ground on which we and the protest organizers can build. The Burlington Police Department has done all we can to foster First Amendment expression and avoid escalation because of that hope. But this belief that officers doing their work in the field can be interrupted or blocked—which we’ve now seen during two arrests and one emergency response—is unacceptable and unlawful.”

We’re told Sheikh-Bile, 27, of Winooski, has an extensive history with police. He was most recently arrested on September 2 on charges of unlawful restraint, aggravated operation without consent and driving with a criminally suspended license.

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