NYPD investigates alleged police brutality in Sunset Park
A New York City police officer has been suspended after a video surfaced of a street fair altercation in Sunset Park, according to an Associated Press report.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the officer in question has been stripped of his gun and badge pending an investigation in a case of alleged excessive police force in Sunset Park on Sunday, according to The AP.
“Bratton said the fair was supposed to end at 6 p.m. but it was still going a half hour later,” The AP reported. “Officers tried to clear the street for traffic.” When the vendors resisted leaving right away, the police seemingly got handsy.
One minute into this YouTube video, viewers can see an officer pushing a woman to the side while other officers engage in shoving matches with the citizens. Then a male officer gets into a wrestling match of sorts with an unidentified woman before officers are seen bringing a man to the ground while a crowd congregates to watch. One man screamed “you (expletive) hit him.”
Sirens blared as the NYPD took control of the situation before a male officer is seen kicking the unidentified man already on the ground at the 2:23 mark of the video.
Late Tuesday night, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Councilmember Carlos Menchaca posted an open letter to Bratton on Facebook.
“It is clear that the actions on behalf of the police have affected the community in a profound way,” the letter said. “We find the physical aggression that is depicted in witness videos disturbing. While the investigation is pending, it is also imperative that we engage in a broader conversation with the 72nd Precinct about police-community dynamics in Sunset Park.”
The pair of lawmakers also discussed the ramifications of stop-and-frisk, saying that Sunset Park is a community “that has felt unfairly targeted” in the past.
“We are community of immigrants that has historically felt isolated from the police,” Velazquez and Menchaca wrote. “We are a community that has feared the use of excessive force by the NYPD. And sadly, the presence of police in our community does not consistently make our residents feel safer. Our goal is to begin repairing this dynamic. We must bring together our neighbors, our trusted community organizations, and our police to begin the healing process and create the level of trust that Sunset Park needs and deserves.”
A representative for the Sunset Park street vendors spoke out against the alleged violence in the video. “This video is evidence of the same disrespectful (at best) and violently abusive (at worst) treatment street vendors receive from NYPD officers every day,” said Sean Basinski, the director of the Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center, in a statement. “Vendors are not ‘broken windows’ but rather hard-working people, usually immigrants and people of color, who are contributing to their neighborhoods and serving their customers. We demand Commissioner Bratton hold these officers accountable for the brutality they exerted on the community they are supposed to protect.”
Bratton says the NYPD is taking the incident very seriously, according to the AP.
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