Downtown Brooklyn

School fight leads to chaos, arrests in Downtown Brooklyn

Restler: School safety initiative not funded for lunchtime

April 1, 2024 Mary Frost
Police cars on Monday parked near the intersection where last week’s incident took place.
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DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — More than a dozen police officers were dispersing a crowd of students in Downtown Brooklyn at lunchtime on Wednesday when a moment of chaos erupted.

The large crowd had gathered at the intersection of Willoughby and Jay streets around 1 p.m. A police spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle that there had been a fight and the cops were attempting to disperse the students when a 27-year-old woman threw coffee onto an officer, causing irritation to his leg. While officers were arresting the woman, a 51-year-old man attempted to interfere. He resisted arrest as officers were placing him into handcuffs, police said. While all this was happening, a crowd of students surged into the intersection, many filming the scene with their cell phones.

Councilmember Lincoln Restler, who represents the Downtown Brooklyn area, told the Eagle the two adults were arrested after the police arrested two students. The two adults “objected to how the situation was handled” and the decision to arrest the students, Restler said he was told.

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Arrested were Samora Johnson, 27, and Kevin Johnson, 51, listed as both living at the same address in Crown Heights. Samora Johnson was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, while Kevin Johnson was charged with resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration.

The police did not have information at press time about any arrested students.

Video posted on the Citizen app shows a student-aged crowd running pellmell into the intersection filled with uniformed officers as police struggle with a man next to a police car. Someone can be seen getting pushed or pulled off their feet, but it is not clear who that person is. While the title of the video claims an officer was knocked down, Restler said that the 84th Precinct shared with him that “no officers were injured or pushed to the ground.”

Several middle and high schools are within blocks of the intersection where the crowd had gathered, and police regularly patrol the area during school dismissal hours. 

Councilmember Lincoln Restler.
Councilmember Lincoln Restler. Eagle photo by Mary Frost

Student conflicts have at times become serious or even tragic. Restler launched a working group in 2022 to bring students, school leadership and safety agents and police together for dialog after a 15-year-old student from one of Downtown’s schools was shot and killed in a nearby basketball court.

“The Downtown Brooklyn Safety Initiative engages youth, school leaders, local businesses and other stakeholders during after-school hours to deescalate potential issues and prevent incidents,” Restler said. “We have partnered with Elite Learners, which is the nonprofit driving our Downtown Brooklyn safety work, to have a steady presence in the area during after-school hours.” 

But the effort has not yet secured funding for lunchtime programming, he added.

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