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Brooklyn pols sue city, NYPD over 2020 Barclays Center demonstration

Claim they were rammed with bicycles, pepper sprayed

June 29, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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Two well-known Brooklyn elected officials on Monday filed suit in Brooklyn Federal Court against Mayor Bill de Blasio, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea, the city, the NYPD and several police officers, saying they were pepper-sprayed and rammed by police officers with bicycles during a protest last May outside Barclays Center.

Assemblywoman Diana Richardson and State Sen. Zellnor Myrie, both of whom represent Crown Heights and nearby areas, said that their rights were violated on May 29, 2020, during one of a number of protests that followed the violent death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of local police there. 

At the Barclays demonstration, Myrie and Richardson both were identified themselves to police officers when they arrived at the demonstration. Myrie had texted NYPD Chief Jeffrey B. Maddrey, NYPD chief of community affairs, before going to the rally, according to the New York Post.

Around 8 p.m., the lawsuit alleges, the police said they were ending the demonstration there and began moving closer to the crowd, hemming them in with their bicycles. 

“The NYPD officers then encircled the group, making it impossible for them to leave,” the suit states. “Wielding their department-issued bikes as weapons, officers rammed Senator Myrie, Assemblywoman Richardson and other protestors with their bike wheels over and over again.”

Assemblymember Diana Richardson (D-Crown Heights-Prospect Lefferts Gardens). Photo courtesy of Assemblymember Richardson

After the two officials asked the police why they were being pushed in the bicycles, they were both pepper-sprayed, the lawsuit alleges. 

Eventually, according to Patch, Richardson, who was lying on the ground, was helped by other protesters, according to Patch. Myrie, who had been handcuffed with zip ties, was let go after a police officer recognized him.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (Crown Heights-East Flatbush-Brownsville-Park Slope-Gowanus). Photo courtesy of State Sen. Myrie

A spokeswoman for the New York City Law Department said, in response to the lawsuit, “The NYPD has a longstanding track record of successfully protecting the right of the public to protest while ensuring public safety, and is committed to strengthening those efforts. We will review these claims.”

The lawsuit added, “But their status as elected officials, their positive relationships with local police departments, and their own peaceful conduct could not protect Senator Myrie and Assemblywoman Richardson from being harmed at the hands of NYPD officers.”


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