Albany County District Attorney David Soares warned that arrests of protesters camping out near New York's state capitol could cause large and unruly rallies, which have so far been peaceful.
Appearing on Countdown With Keith Olbermann Monday, Soares talked about his discussions with local law enforcement officials over mass arrests that have been reportedly pushed by the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a first-term Democrat.
The concern was law enforcement, locally, sparking greater interest and sparking, quite frankly, a fuse that we wouldn't be able to control, said Soares, a fellow Democrat.
Protesters have been setting up an encampment near the statehouse since Friday. There have been no arrests related to the Occupy Albany demonstrations while protesters continue to camp out. Mass arrests were avoided when a group moved to nearby city-owned land as a park curfew neared, according to Albany Times-Union.
The Times-Union also reported that on Friday night, protesters were moved off park land to avoid breaking curfew, but several dozen had camped out nonetheless.
Soares said that he told law enforcement officials that his office would decline to prosecute any arrested protester unless there was property damage or injury to a police officer.
Any arrests for breaking curfew in parks, for instance, would have compromised police departments' efforts to maintain relationships with protest organizers, Soares said.
We've made the correct choice and we're receiving the benefits of that, so to speak, Soares said.
Cuomo had reportedly pushed Albany's Mayor Jerry Jennings to start arresting protesters over breaking the city's curfew for parks.
Meanwhile, Cuomo on Monday appeared on his predecessors' radio show, telling former Gov. David Paterson that he supports the protesters and enforcement of city law.
It wasn't too long ago, David, that I was out there by myself, Cuomo told Paterson, referring to protests against the draconian Rockefeller drug laws. We've had thousands of people all through the Capitol, all through the steps. We believe in the right to demonstrate. We also believe in the rule of law and we enforce the law.