The New York State Attorney General’s office has filed a lawsuit against the NYPD for making false arrests of peaceful protesters in Mott Haven last summer. AG Letitia James contends that police leadership and the mayor failed to prevent officers entrapped hundreds of peaceful protesters, then, tear gassed, beat and detained them after they had marched peacefully from the Hub to Port Morris on the evening of June 4.
In a 99-page report Human Rights Watch released in September, criticizing NYPD’s aggressive response to George Floyd protests citywide, the group leveled its most withering criticism of NYPD on officers’ behavior during the Mott Haven protest.
“There is no question that the NYPD engaged in a pattern of excessive, brutal, and unlawful force against peaceful protesters,” James said in a press release.
According to the lawsuit, the NYPD, the City of New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, and the NYPD’s Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terence Monahan violated protesters’ rights by failing to take measures to prevent police violence.
Monahan, the NYPD’s highest-ranking uniformed officer, led the police assault while Shea disseminated information about the protest and its organizers that other city officials later contradicted.
“For at least the last two decades, the NYPD has engaged in the same unlawful excessive force and false arrest practices while policing large-scale protests,” the lawsuit read, adding that de Blasio, Shea, and Monahan displayed “deliberate indifference” in failing to rein in officers before the protests.
Local group Bronx Defenders was prominent among the human rights organizations that contributed to the report that figures heavily in the AG’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit seeks a court order spotlighting the policies that led to the abuses, a declaration from NYPD that their conduct was unconstitutional, and a requirement for police to undergo training and monitoring.
Human rights and grassroots groups want independent accountability systems to be established to monitor police misconduct citywide and nationally, and a shifting of public funds from policing to housing, education, health care, and good jobs.
On Sunday, January 17, Mott Haven families will march to the NYPD’s 40th Precinct station house on Alexander Avenue and E. 138tth Street to hold a press conference to demand justice for the protesters.