Lawyer: Police responsible for ambulance problems at protest

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2017 4:50 PM
Lawyer: Police responsible for ambulance problems at protest

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Police said protesters who temporarily shut down a highway over the weekend delayed an ambulance, but an attorney for the demonstrators said officers are responsible for the vehicle getting stuck in traffic.

Saturday's demonstration in New Haven involved more than 100 people protesting President Donald Trump's immigration order. Police said the protesters obstructed the ambulance, forcing medics to perform an emergency medical procedure, when they blocked the northbound lanes of Route 34.

But attorney Patricia Kane said protesters had asked police to inform them if emergency vehicles needed to get through — and the officers did not do so.

State police charged 66-year-old Norman Clement, of New Haven, with inciting a riot, disorderly conduct, interfering with an officer and reckless use of the highway by a pedestrian.

"I asked Norm, had anyone informed the group there was an emergency and had they failed to move aside?" Kane said. "He said nobody had said anything to them, and he repeated that if there was an emergency they would step aside."

Kane said she has been told the patient was a woman in labor. A spokesman at Yale-New Haven Hospital said the hospital had no information about any incident Saturday afternoon. A message seeking comment also was left for officials at American Medical Response, the ambulance company.

Kane said Clement is a long-time activist, who recently returned from the pipeline protest in North Dakota.

She said he and the other protesters had left the highway and were walking downtown when police surrounded them and rushed Clement, pinned him to the ground and used pepper spray on him, knocking over at least one other protester in the process.

"They never even warned protesters to get out of the road," she said. "State police were very hostile from the get-go. There was a dog who was very vicious. It reminded me of Birmingham, Alabama, in the days of civil rights. It was completely unnecessary for a peaceful protest."

State police declined to comment on who was in the ambulance or respond to Kane's comments.

Police said protesters were knocked over by Clement as he fled from authorities. Clement was released on a $5,000 surety bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 13.

Kane said at least two other people were detained and one charged by New Haven police, who did not immediately respond to calls seeking details.