Hartford protest ends in more than two dozen arrests

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HARTFORD, Vt. (WCAX) Twenty-six people were arrested on Wednesday for blocking traffic after a protest against immigration raids in the Upper Valley.

Along with protesting the raids, the group is pushing for the Hartford police to add more protections for undocumented immigrants in their fair and impartial policing policy.

Customs and Border Protection confirmed to WCAX News that 18 people were taken into federal custody in the Lebanon area between July 29 and Aug. 1 and are now facing deportation.

"We are here together, united, and we must demand that we never be divided," one speaker said.

What started as a peaceful rally ended with over two dozen arrests.

"It's important for everyone to understand that this community is very much engaged in taking all of the members of the community and our guests," Hartford Police Chief Phillip Kasten said.

Police say 100 people protested immigration raids and police policy Wednesday evening.

The activists blocked traffic at the intersection of Routes 5 and 14 in White River Junction for over two hours.

"It feels like it's the right thing to do and everyone should be here because this is our community and immigrants are welcome here," said Elle Gonzales with Rise Upper Valley.

Not everyone felt blocking traffic was the right way to get a message across.

Doug Tuttle: I think all of these people out to be arrested or run over, that's what ought to happen.
Reporter Dom Amato: You think these people should be run over, your enticing violence?
Tuttle: I'm not enticing violence, they're enticing violence by standing in the middle of the road.

Traffic was backed up for several minutes before police started to reroute traffic.

"It's not a state or town issue," said Joe Alvin from Hartford. "We're defending our border against foreign incursion and its a federal government issue."

The group Rise Upper Valley planned the rally and protest. Police say a joint town meeting was canceled at the Hartford Town Hall to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Although understanding the concerns of the public, protestors believe the consequences were worth it.

"Our neighbors, our friends, and our family members were dragged off their work sites this past week and that's what's really horrific," Pamela Voekel said.

Hartford, Lebanon, Hanover and Vermont state police assisted in handling the crowd.