The New York Police Department said at least 29 people were arrested – and at least 11 officers were injured – Monday when a crowd of protesters gathered on what would civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s 92nd birthday in lower Manhattan.
Hundreds of people who first listened to speakers outside Barclays Center in Brooklyn participated in a so-called Black Liberation March, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to City Hall, where they were met with a large presence of NYPD officers, WNBC, the NBC owned TV station in New York, reported. Videos posted online showed officers wearing masks, and holding zip-tie flex cuffs, clash with demonstrators in the street that evening.
Police said officers first began moving in to make arrests “when a female using an iPhone to record protestors” in front of the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, at 1 Centre Street, had “protesters move in to harass her,” an NYPD spokeswoman confirmed to Fox News.
Officers formed a circle to protect and remove the woman and then had glass bottles thrown at them. The spokeswoman said other officers used a public address system “to give clear, audible directions for protesters to leave the roadway.”
A total of 29 individuals — including 12 males and 17 females who ranged in age from 20 to 41 – were arrested between Chambers and Centre streets. All but two people reside in the five boroughs of New York City — one resides in Rhode Island, the other in New Jersey.
Out of the 29 arrested, 21 received summonses for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor, while seven received a desk appearance ticket and one woman had her arrest voided. Three individuals were also cited for resisting arrest while one was also slapped with a misdemeanor assault.
A total of 11 uniformed members of the NYPD were injured. Six of those refused medical attention, including a captain who was struck in his helmet with a glass bottle. The remaining five were treated and released at area hospitals with various minor injuries, including pain and swelling to an ankle, pain and bruising to left leg, an injured upper arm, an injured elbow and an injured shoulder.
“When you march from Brooklyn over a bridge, you try to shut down the traffic on the bridge. You’re bringing bottles. You’re bringing graffiti. You’re spray painting our city. This is our city. You’re spray painting to burn our city down,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said in an interview with local cable news channel NY1 Tuesday morning.
These aren’t “actions that are caused by police officers so that’s a news flash for the AG,” Shea continued with the Big Apple’s top cop noting that they are “caused by people that want to destroy our way of life and our city and we’re not going to let it happen.”
The incident comes a week after New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a federal lawsuit against the NYPD and its leadership over the treatment of protesters during demonstrations that broke out over the summer in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“Once again, we are seeing and hearing accounts of NYPD officers infringing on the rights of New Yorkers. The images of officers using excessive force against peaceful protesters is alarming and cause for deep concern,” James said in a statement Monday. “Less than a week after I filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over these very exact issues, we saw officers exhibit the same behavior.
“As we laid out in our lawsuit, this is a longstanding pattern that must stop. These New Yorkers were marching in the spirit of Dr. King, who taught us that peaceful protest is the most powerful force in the fight for freedom, equality, and justice for all,” she added.
The lawsuit specifically charges the NYPD, the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan “with failing to address this longstanding pattern of abuse by not properly training, supervising, and disciplining officers to prevent misconduct, despite knowledge and public admission that it violated the rights of New Yorkers.”
It includes dozens of examples of the alleged excessive force and other misconduct since May 2020, including the unjustified use of batons, pepper spray, bicycles, and a crowd-control tactic known as “kettling” against peaceful protesters, as well as the arrest of medics and legal observers. James is seeking systemic reforms to the NYPD and the implementation of a federal monitor to oversee the NYPD’s policing tactics in future protests and to ensure compliance with the law.