The NYPD violently arrested a peaceful protester holding his two-year-old child on his shoulders Saturday, allegedly for standing on a park bench, as well as 10 other peaceful protesters at a demonstration against police violence.
Despite the fact that organizers of the protest jumped through the arduous hoops of obtaining a parade permit, New York City police showed up for the event as if they were prepared for a riot, and deployed numerous questionable tactics, trampling on the demonstrators Constitutional rights to free speech and to peaceably gather.
Staffed almost exclusively by their new protest-specific unit, which has civil libertarians concerned, the NYPD carried and used military-grade sound cannons, which can cause permanent hearing damage, filmed peaceful protesters, which is a violation of a federal decree, and over-reacted to minor and even non-existent offenses, arresting nearly a dozen protests, some brutally (videos below).
The rally in Washington Square went unmolested by the police, but as soon as it left the square, the NYPD began shoving metal barricades into protesters as they turned onto 6th Avenue.
As the march proceeded up 6th Avenue, anytime a protester so much as stepped over the line of the far right lane, the NYPD mobilized their fleet of scooters, threatened arrests, and even blared dispersal orders over their ear-shattering sound cannon.
When the march reached Bryant Park, a contingent turned right on 42nd Street toward 5th Avenue, apparently unsure of the final destination. Some protesters crossed 5th Avenue, but others realized they had passed the destination and turned down 5th to circle the block back to the second rallying point.
The NYPD, which had been holding back traffic until this point, suddenly instructed traffic to cross 42nd Street and drive behind the protest, creating a dangerous situation for everyone involved and, with barricades along both sidewalks, trapping the protesters in an arrestable position. Indeed, NYPD then immediately began arresting protesters for “obstructing vehicular traffic.”
The NYPD arrested five protesters on 5th Avenue and shoved the rest onto the sidewalk, injuring at least one person – a member of the press named Russell Johnson, who told PINAC News that the NYPD shoved him over their metal barricades, hurting his back to the point he feared standing up without an ambulance
While the NYPD was able to maneuver multiple vehicles down the block to arrest the protesters, an ambulance did not arrive for Johnson for more than 40 minutes.
Things remained calm through the rest of the second rally, after which a smaller group took the sidewalks toward Times Square. Many police followed.
When the splinter march reached Times Square, several protesters, including one man with his two-year-old child on his shoulders, stood on the benches around the statue of George M. Cohen in the pedestrian plaza to read the facts of police brutality to the crowd in Times Square.
The NYPD vastly over-reacted to this minor infraction (if it even is one) and violently arrested all of the protesters on the statue’s structure, six in total. I was present for the arrest and heard no dispersal order, just saw the police suddenly grabbing the demonstrators, throwing them to the ground, cuffing them, and dragging them away to police vehicles.
Below is video of the NYPD arresting the man who had his child on his shoulders, throwing him to the ground and stomping on him.
The NYPD took all of the protesters arrested at Rise Up October to the 7th Precinct, just south of Delancey Street, some 60 blocks south of where they were arrested, past at least five other precincts. While they did not transfer the protesters again, as they have done without alerting jail support at recent protests, they did take them to a precinct distant enough to prohibit many people from joining jail support who wanted to.
At the time of the writing of this piece, of the 11 people arrested at #RiseUpOctober, seven had been released from the precinct with minor charges. The other four had been taken to Central Booking where the NYPD said they would be held overnight and arraigned in the morning on charges of “resisting arrest” in addition to other charges.
As readers of this site are well aware, charges of “resisting arrest” are generally cover for the cops roughing you up while they arrest you. Last night was not exception. Video of the one person who was arrested on Broadway and charged with “resisting” can be seen below. The NYPD’s protest-specific Strategic Response Group seems particularly well trained at the age old tactic of yelling “stop resisting” for the cameras, when no one is actually resisting.
Having watched the famed monthly Critical Mass bike ride in NYC dwindle from thousands of people every month to fewer than a dozen, largely because of over-policing, false arrests, trumped-up charges, and general over-policing, it is hard to overstate just how chilling of an effect these police practices can have on people’s First Amendment Rights.