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Organizers arrested at Faso protest

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    Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene MediaA protester is taken into custody by a Columbia County Sheriff's deputy on Monday at Republican Congressman John Faso's office in Kinderhook. The protester was one of more than a dozen who showed up to the congressman's district office to call on Faso to support a "clean" DREAM Act.
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    Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene MediaProtesters gather outside Congressman John Faso's office in Kinderhook on Monday in support of the DREAM Act.
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    Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene MediaBryan MacCormack is taken by his hands and feet into a Columbia County Sheriff's vehicle on Monday during a protest at Congressman John Faso's office in Kinderhook.
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    Jada Kitson/Columbia-Greene MediaA protester is taken into police custody after refusing to leave Congressman John Faso's district office in Kinderhook on Monday.
December 18, 2017 11:30 pm

KINDERHOOK — Nine people were arrested at a sit-in staged at U.S. Rep. John Faso’s hometown district office on Monday.

The day began when several political activist groups walked through Kinderhook to Faso’s office led by a marching band.

More than a dozen protesters from United We Dream, New York Immigration Coalition, Columbia County Sanctuary Movement and allied organizations demanded that Faso support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, or the DREAM Act, and packed the congressman’s office for a sit-in.

Faso’s office did not immediately respond to request for comment Monday, but Faso released a statement regarding the tax reform plan. In the statement, he said he will vote against the plan.

“From the beginning, I wanted to support a tax reform plan that would increase economic growth, increase worker paychecks, incentivize small business investment and ensure New York families are better off. Unfortunately, this plan does not meet all of those criteria, and I will vote against the bill when it comes up for a vote…”

On Dec. 7, Congress passed a Continuing Resolution that extended funding for the federal government until Dec. 22. But the resolution did not include the DREAM Act, a bipartisan bill that provides immigrant youth who came to the U.S. as children but have no pathway to citizenship.

They called on Faso support a “clean” DREAM Act and withhold his vote on the federal budget unless the act is included.

The rally marks a week of action planned by local groups leading up to the Dec. 22 budget vote. Another protest is planned at Faso’s office today, organizers said.

Police were first called by the congressman’s staff after 9 a.m. when several protesters were asked to leave the office and refused, state police public information officer Aaron Hicks said.

Bryan MacCormack, the executive director of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, was one of five protesters who was arrested at the office just after 5:30 p.m. by Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies.

“All these kids that have grown up here and who I have coached on the soccer field as a soccer coach are now at risk of becoming undocumented and so we are here to say today that that is unacceptable,” MacCormack said before his arrest. “We are taking a stand that hollow words of assurance are no longer going to be enough for us.

Emma Kreyche, 37, of Rosendale, and Jennifer J. Benn, 23, of Hudson, were charged earlier in the day with violating the local building occupancy code, a violation. They were also charged with obstruction of governmental administration, a class A misdemeanor.

Two men were ticketed for trespassing, Hicks said. But their arrest reports were not immediately available.

Benn returned to the protest shortly after 1 p.m., not long after she was taken away by police.

“I am here to fight for my community members, my family and my friends,” Benn said. “They deserve it. They deserve to live like human beings. They deserve to live with dignity.”

Throughout the day, protesters chanted phrases such as “Money for dreamers and education, not for walls or deportation” and “No dream, no deal,” Faso, Faso you can’t hide, we are on the dreamers’ side.”

Five people were taken into custody around 5:30 p.m. after they refused to leave the congressman’s office after about an hour of conversations between state police, the sheriff’s deputies and protest leaders.

All the protesters were taken into custody by Columbia County Sheriff’s deputies. The charges were not immediately available. MacCormack was the only protester seen carried out of the office.

One by one, the protesters were taken into deputies’ patrol vehicles, protestors sang outside the office that the protests were not over.

Gloria Martinez, of Claverack, one of the founders of the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, was also taken into police custody.

“I work with a lot of people and I work with undocumented immigrants that don’t have any type of status, that do have DACA, and that is the reason why we are here,” Martinez said before her arrest. “We don’t want to see an increase in ICE activities in our communities. We don’t want the DREAMers used as a bargaining chip to build the wall.”