I am heartbroken and disgusted to see one of my family members a young black man w/his hands up peacefully protesting and an NYPD officer pulls down his mask and pepper sprays him. @NYCSpeakerCoJo @BPEricAdams @FarahNLouis @JumaaneWilliams @NewYorkStateAG @NYPDShea cc: @EOsyd pic.twitter.com/tGK5XWS0bt
— Ms. Anju J. Rupchandani (@AJRupchandani) May 31, 2020
A New York City police officer was caught on video taking off a black protester’s mask, and pepper spraying him in the face even though he had his hands up. A statement attributed to the protester’s mother said that he and his brother were out during demonstrations over the death of Minnesota man George Floyd.
“I am wondering the threat he posed,” she wrote. “I am wondering why his mask was pulled down. Let me remind you multiple people have spoken about the reality of black men wearing masks. For the person that stated ‘we need to protect the civil society’ it has not been a civil society for black men and women.”
The NYPD did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment about this incident. The pepper spraying is absolutely on official radar, however. New York Attorney General Leticia James (or least the person running her Twitter account), asked that the user who posted the video file a complaint and sent the video to her office.
Please report this and send the video to my office: [email protected]
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) May 31, 2020
New York Council Speaker Corey Johnson (District 3) called the pepper-spraying “inexcusable.”
Inexcusable. My God. A police officer who tear gases a civilian whose hands are up does a dishonor to his colleagues and his city and needs to be brought to justice. https://t.co/zYvEKidJtQ
— Corey Johnson (@CoreyinNYC) May 31, 2020
Protests popped up nationwide in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Video showed then-police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the alleged victim’s neck during an arrest. That incident got the cop and three others fired. Now the former law enforcement official faces a count each of third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter: Prosecutors said that he stayed on Floyd for more than two minutes and 53 seconds after the alleged victim became unresponsive.
Footage exacerbated into a ever-growing cultural fissure: The ongoing national debate over how law enforcement treats people of color, especially black people. Hence, the tense and fraught protests, which erupted in incidents of looting, but also ugly actions by police. In New York, footage showed a police vehicle plowing into protesters, and in another incident, an officer showed a woman and called her a “stupid fucking bitch.”
Generally speaking, higher ups are voicing unequivocal support of their rank and file during this turbulent time. NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea has defended police, and portrayed them as the ones who’ve been wronged.
“What you’ve endured these last couple of days and nights—like much of 2020, so far—was unprecedented,” he wrote in a statement published to Twitter. “In no small way, I want you to know that I’m extremely proud of the way you’ve comported yourselves in the face of such persistent danger, disrespect, and denigration. What we saw in New York City last night and the night before was not about peaceful protest of any kind. It was not about civil disobedience. It was not about demonstrating against police brutality. What it was, quite frankly, was a mob bent solely on taking advantage of a moment in American history, to co-opt the cause of equality that we all must uphold, to intentionally inflict chaos, mayhem, and injury just for the sake of doing so.”
[Screengrab via @AJRupchandani on Twitter]
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