The New York Police Division’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, Terence Monahan, led an operation to entice, assault and arrest greater than 250 peaceable protesters within the Mott Haven neighborhood within the South Bronx in early June. In an obvious try and justify the police motion, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea unfold misinformation in regards to the protest and its organizers — with unfounded allegations that different metropolis officers both debunked or contradicted.
When requested about this incident throughout Brian Lehrer’s Ask the Mayor section on WNYC on Oct. 2, Mayor de Blasio stated: “If issues have been completed fallacious, anybody who did one thing fallacious needs to be held accountable within the applicable manner.”
The mayor claimed an investigation is ongoing — nearly 4 months after the protest. But there may be now greater than sufficient data for him to take motion.
In Human Rights Watch’s 99-page report on the protest, printed final week and based mostly on interviews or written accounts from 81 contributors and evaluation of 155 movies from the protest, we discovered that the police motion in Mott Haven was deliberate, deliberate, and amounted to critical violations of worldwide human-rights legislation.
On the night of June 4, minutes earlier than the 8 p.m. curfew — imposed that week after looting elsewhere within the metropolis — scores of cops surrounded and trapped the protesters as they marched peacefully by Mott Haven, utilizing a tactic often known as “kettling.” Then, simply after 8 p.m., the police — unprovoked and with out warning — moved in on the protesters, wielding batons, beating individuals from automobile tops, shoving them to the bottom, and firing pepper spray into their faces earlier than rounding up greater than 250 individuals for arrest.
The assault injured no less than 61 individuals, who had lacerations, a damaged nostril, a misplaced tooth, a sprained shoulder, a damaged finger, black eyes, and potential nerve injury from overly tight zip ties. We didn’t be taught of any cops being injured in the course of the protest.
We additionally discovered no proof of threats or acts of violence or vandalism by the protest organizers or protesters. On the contrary, the protest was peaceable; the one violence was within the police response.
Most of these injured didn’t obtain any rapid medical care, as police arrested or obstructed volunteer medics, clearly identifiable in medical scrubs with a crimson cross insignia. Dozens of individuals spent hours in detention with untreated wounds and their fingers certain behind their backs. At the least 13 authorized observers — who put on clearly identifiable hats and badges — have been additionally detained, in some instances violently, earlier than being launched.
Shea confirmed the premeditated nature of the police operation, stating at a information convention the following day: “We had a plan which was executed practically flawlessly within the Bronx.” Shea wrongly described the protest as an try by “outdoors agitators” to “trigger mayhem,” “tear down society,” and “injure cops.” He additionally claimed the police had recovered a firearm and gasoline from the protesters. It turns out the firearm was recovered from a pair a couple of half mile away from the march — greater than an hour earlier than it had began. The gasoline he cited had been discovered the night time earlier than. There was no obvious connection of both with the protest.
Throughout his look on the Lehrer present, de Blasio additionally claimed that there was “a particular circumstance” in the course of the Mott Haven protest with “a menace of violence” and “some proof that it was being performed out,” however he failed to offer any particulars.
Within the police division’s response to our letter asking a sequence of questions in regards to the protest and our findings, the division stated that the demonstration was “illegal” from 8 p.m., and that the detention of nonessential employees was subsequently “lawful.” But the police didn’t tackle the truth that the mayor’s curfew order additionally acknowledged that “failure to adjust to this order shall lead to orders to disperse,” a chance not supplied to the protesters in Mott Haven, who have been trapped earlier than the curfew went into impact.
New 12-minute video from @hrw & @situ_research reveals how New York Metropolis police carried out a plan to entice, assault and arrest over 250 protesters within the South Bronx on June 4. After which they unfold misinformation to attempt to justify their actions. Watch right here: https://t.co/c9wXX9kIRL pic.twitter.com/xQFOqQ0fu6
— Ida Sawyer (@ida_sawyer) September 30, 2020
“Warnings must be given very clearly and other people must be given time to regulate to these warnings,” de Blasio stated on the Lehrer present. “If that didn’t occur, then that’s going to be an actual drawback for the individuals who have been in cost that have been on that scene.”
The division additionally claimed in its letter to Human Rights Watch that “authorized observers didn’t take pleasure in an exemption as important employees,” regardless that the Mayor’s Office had clarified that authorized observers have been certainly exempt from the curfew. When requested about this on the Lehrer present, de Blasio replied: “With all due respect to the NYPD, the NYPD is fallacious on this one.”
The New York Police Division might act as whether it is above the legislation, however de Blasio has the authority and may take motion instantly to point out that there are penalties for such violence and abuse and for intentionally mischaracterizing what occurred. These penalties ought to embody applicable disciplinary motion towards, together with potential dismissal of, Shea and Monahan.
If the mayor doesn’t take applicable motion, he, too, needs to be held to account.
Ida Sawyer (@ida_sawyer) is performing disaster and battle director of Human Rights Watch and co-author of the report, “‘Kettling’ Protesters within the Bronx: Systemic Police Brutality and Its Prices in america.”