10 protesters arrested for blocking bus carrying asylum-seekers

ByAaron Katersky ABCNews logo
Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Protesters flooded the street outside a former senior living facility in Staten Island, temporarily blocking a bus carrying asylum-seekers, after local leaders said they learned it was slated to house New York City's latest migrant shelter.

Ten people were arrested, nine of whom received summonses for disorderly conduct and were released, police said.

Vadim Belyakov, 48, was charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest and obstructing government administration after an officer was injured trying to arrest him, according to police. He will be arraigned in criminal court Wednesday. The police officer was treated for a knee injury.

City Councilman David Carr said the city Department of Social Services told him the shelter would be opening at the former Island Shores Senior Living Facility, which brought dozens of residents to protest, and police officers quickly responded to close the street in front of the former facility.

A bus taking about 20 asylum-seekers to the new facility turned around after it was met by protesters at around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday night.

The bus encountered protesters, temporarily blocking its path. Police were arranging an alternate route when the passengers asked to return to The Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan, which is being used as a migrant intake center. The bus then turned around.

The city confirmed to ABC News that the former Island Shores Senior Living Facility will be used as a shelter for asylum-seekers, run by the nonprofit Homes for the Homeless.

Mayor Eric Adams, appearing on several morning shows, described it as "an ugly display"

"The police department handled those small number of people and we are not going to allow ourselves to be bullied carrying out our responsibilities," Adams told local outlet NY1. "But I understand the frustration New Yorkers are going through and I understand the frustration that the asylum-seekers are experiencing as well."

An NYPD drone was used during the protest to survey the crowd, which included people hurling objects at the officers. Police called a Level 3 mobilization for crowd control.

The 288-bed senior living facility was put up for sale last year, and local residents have been protesting for the last month amid rumors that migrants would soon be placed there.

Adams has been appealing for help from both the state and federal government due to a surge in migrants bused to the city since last year. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul met with President Joe Bien on Tuesday, saying she had a "very productive conversation" in regard to "specific requests for help with the migrant crisis."

More than 110,000 asylum-seekers have arrived in the city since spring 2022, according to the Department of Social Services, with over 60,000 still in the city's care.

"Additional capacity is desperately needed, and every community must do their part as we continue to rapidly open new sites across all five boroughs to meet the ever-increasing need for shelter," a DSS spokesperson said in a statement. "In New York City, we treat everyone with dignity and compassion, long-term New Yorkers and new arrivals alike, and DSS is committed to ensuring the safety of our clients at all times."

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