New York police break up protest by Venezuelan immigrants

New York, Feb 2 (EFE).- New York City police on Thursday broke up a sidewalk “camp” set up by immigrants, almost all of them Venezuelans, who for the past three days have been staging a protest by sleeping in front of the hotel that served them as a shelter and from which they were expelled last weekend to be relocated to a new shelter far from downtown.

The immigrants, all of them men who arrived in the US traveling alone, were forced to gather their belongings and leave the site by order of the police, who two days also had obligated them to leave the tents in which some of them had been sleeping and which had been protecting them from the winter cold.

On Thursday, all signs of the immigrants’ presence – suitcases, blankets, clothing, chairs, the coffee maker and refrigerators provided to them by various support groups – remained at the site and now barricades have been set up there and several police are monitoring the Lower Manhattan location on 57th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, not far from Carnegie Hall.

After the immigrants were dislodged, city workers immediately began cleaning up the sidewalk where the migrants had left food waste.

Police began forcing the migrants to leave about 9 pm on Wednesday.

“The police came, two cleaning trucks and some men dressed in green (i.e. National Guard troops),” Ivan, who had been sleeping on the sidewalk for the past three days, told EFE.

“The police came right up to us and asked us to leave the area. We gathered our suitcases, our belongings … the only things we have,” he said.

According to Ivan, about 15 of his companions took the bus provided by the city that transported them to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, which for the next several months will serve as a temporary shelter for 1,000 single men.

The removal of the migrants came just hours before a cold wave is due to hit New York, bringing frigid temperatures that will send thermometers below 14 F (-10 C).

The immigrants were sleeping on the sidewalk in protest because, they said, there was no heating at the cruise terminal, there are not enough bathrooms and to take a bath they would need to cross the street, not to mention the fact that it is a location far from downtown New York.

Meanwhile, New York Mayor Eric Adams called into question the idea that the people sleeping on the sidewalk were really immigrants, part of the wave of some 43,000 who have arrived in the Big Apple over the past eight months.

EFE –/bp

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