Mayor Invoice de Blasio defended the NYPD’s aggressive crackdown on a Black Lives Matter protest earlier within the week, implying — with out proof — that the marchers would possibly mount an assault just like the pro-Trump riot on the U.S. Capitol.
Showing on the Brian Lehrer Present on Friday, the mayor was requested why the NYPD deployed a controversial anti-terror unit to interrupt up an MLK Day march on Monday evening.
“After what occurred on the Capitol, a gaggle approaching Metropolis Corridor, there was specific sensitivity,” de Blasio mentioned. “Nobody anyplace on this nation desires to see a repeat of what occurred on the Capitol from, you already know, anyone of any ideology. In order that did trigger some particular circumstances.”
That is from Monday evening, MLK day. @NYCMayor have you ever seen the video but?!
We have been standing on the sidewalk chanting “Black Lives Matter” when out of nowhere, provoked by nothing, the cops cost proper at us and attempt to seize us for arrest. pic.twitter.com/oWCu1x6COd
— Hillary Wright (@hillarywright) January 22, 2021
De Blasio didn’t present proof of a particular menace to Metropolis Corridor. In a press release to Gothamist, mayoral press secretary Invoice Neidhardt tried to make clear that “Black Lives Matter protesters are clearly not just like that reactionary motion.”
However contributors within the march bristled on the mayor’s suggestion, accusing him of justifying extreme pressure on Black protesters by likening them to far-right extremists.
“It is ridiculous, insulting, and enraging that the mayor is trying to make use of the Jan. 6 assault as an excuse for the Strategic Response Group’s violence in opposition to MLK Day demonstrators — as if a Black queer and trans-led protest calling for racial justice and police accountability is akin to an armed white supremacist mob,” mentioned Loyda Colon, the director of the Justice Committee, a gaggle that helped arrange the demonstration.
An MLK day protest has changed into a standoff with NYPD officers, who vastly outnumber demonstrators. A number of violent arrests to date. This individual gave the impression to be pulled off the sidewalk and jumped for standing to shut to the street pic.twitter.com/IUhqEiAAIT
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) January 19, 2021
The crackdown on the march was led by roughly 100 officers with the Strategic Response Group, lots of whom carried zip ties on their belts in obvious anticipation of arrests. Following a report that discovered SRG officers escalated tensions at this summer season’s demonstrations, the mayor and NYPD agreed in December to now not depend on the heavily-militarized unit to police protests.
Like quite a few previous BLM marches, Monday’s originated in Brooklyn and moved throughout the Brooklyn Bridge to decrease Manhattan. Nearly instantly after exiting the bridge, SRG officers attacked the group, swinging batons and fists at them, in response to protesters.
At the very least two demonstrators have been hospitalized, and 29 folks have been arrested. On the time, an nameless Metropolis Corridor official described the SRG’s presence as “absurd.”
On Friday, a de Blasio spokesperson claimed there was “heightened safety” round Metropolis Corridor earlier than the march, however directed additional inquiries to the NYPD, which didn’t reply to a request for remark.
A division spokesperson beforehand mentioned that ten officers suffered minor accidents on the occasion. Probably the most critical damage was to a police captain, who was hit within the helmet with a bottle, police mentioned. Protesters, in the meantime, mentioned that they have been attacked by officers first, and responded by defending themselves.
Earlier this week, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea accused the marchers of “throwing bottles, breaking property, calling for the demise of officers,” earlier than describing them as “the antithesis of what Martin Luther King stood for.”
Tameer Peak, a 25-year-old activist who was arrested Monday on costs of obstructing governmental administration, mentioned he wasn’t overly involved with the NYPD commissioner’s invocation of King’s message.
“I used to be arrested on MLK Day as a result of Dermot Shea sicced his vicious minions on us,” Peak instructed Gothamist. “For him to talk on Martin’s legacy is asinine. Dermot Shea would have arrested Martin Luther King.”