World news – United States – « Now they drag my face to the ground »: protesters say NYPD’s most violent tactics have returned


Some protesters have described being massacred and pinned to the ground by police Others say they were held for hours in cramped holding cells, in some cases without masks or access to food or water All were among 86 people arrested at a protest in Manhattan on Saturday – the largest mass arrest of protesters since Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted his curfew in early June

« Now they’re dragging my face on the floor, » activist Derrick West, 29, told a press conference outside One Police Plaza on Monday night. « Now I have three officers above me, one has his shoulder on my head, another on my head, another on my leg Another twists my arm like he’s about to dislocate me shoulder « 

Organizer Louis Galilei, 27, of Harlem, said an officer was leaning his head against the sidewalk

« I said I couldn’t resist », he said « They then put their knees on my back »

Protester Sofia Vickerman described how women were held « alone in cells for hoursbegging the officers passing in front of us without a mask for the water « 

The arrests on Saturday in Times Square and near New York Police Headquarters – for offenses such as resisting arrest, disorderly driving and walking on the pavement – were the culmination of three days of increasingly fierce police repression For many protesters, this was the most consistent rise in aggressive NYPD tactics used since Mayor Bill de Blasio lifted a mandatory 8p curfew in early June after several nights of historic mass arrests

While there have been occasional clashes with the NYPD since, such as when police cleared Abolition Park of protesters camped there during a pre-dawn raid or when officers interrupted a vigil to Cyclist activist Sarah Pitts, protesters were able to walk the streets for the most part without incident Some protesters say they believe the recent change in NYPD behavior is part of a deliberate effort to dissuade them from protesting in the ‘to come up

Emergency protests were staged last Tuesday, following allegations by a whistleblower that women in an immigration and customs detention center in Georgia suffered hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures without their consent Protesters returned to the square the following days and on Wednesday, when they attempted to enter the federal building west of Foley Square, a video posted to social media showed a guard waving his gun at them

They withdrew and continued to march, but on Thursday evening, when protesters returned to Foley Square again, police in riot gear blocked access to the federal building The group had only walked a few blocks before being confronted by the police Twenty-two people were arrested They were charged with a range of low-level offenses, including having an unlicensed megaphone, obstruction of government administration, resistance to arrest, disorderly conduct and possession of weapons (police say one person had a knife and another had a metal baton)

The next day, 16 more protesters were arrested and charged with assault, spitting, disorderly behavior, obstruction of government administration and possession of weapons On this day, the NYPD alleges that a person had a knife, chain and baseball bat

It’s unclear if the massive crackdown that followed on Saturday was a reaction to the weapons police said they found the day before

An NYPD spokeswoman said the department supported the right to protest, but had to reconcile that right with public safety She blamed Saturday’s crackdown on attempts to block traffic without a permit

« For the safety of all New Yorkers, the NYPD cannot support any blocking of unauthorized traffic by any government agency, » the spokesperson said

When asked about Thursday’s crackdown, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he did not know the details of the arrests in Times Square, adding that there had been « no change in strategy which I certainly have discussed with meThe mayor added that he believed the police should have « clear ground rules, usable ground rules » on when they make arrests during protests.

Gideon Oliver, an attorney with the National Lawyers Guild, whose members act as legal observers during protests, said the latest arrests likely represented a tactical change on the part of the NYPD, but that he is very unlikely that the public will know why she was adopted

“Unfortunately, these types of political choices tend to be practically invisible, as there is no access to information about whether they are made or why,” said Oliver, who impeached senior NYPD members on crowd control tactics used for the 2004 Republican National Convention and the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement « What drives these political decisions, how are they evaluated, has it been successful? » Should we change something? None of these things are subject to any public scrutiny « 

The NYPD is already facing hundreds of violent conduct lawsuits and random arrests by NYPD agents in the first weeks of protests against police brutality and systemic racism sparked by the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis And As the anti-ICE protest was greeted with a massive demonstration by the police force, several other protesters, for Ruth Bader Ginsburg and for climate and racial justice, were then allowed to take to the streets without interference

Andrea Acevedo, 37, said she felt the arrests were an effort to intimidate protesters, although she added it would not deter her

« I don’t know what’s going to happen right now, but we won’t stop protesting And if they keep stopping us for jaywalking, we will keep doing it », she said  » But we just want to make sure people watch – that their taxes are going to stop peaceful protesters instead of preventing crime. »

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News from around the world – US – “Now they’re dragging my head on the floor”: Protesters Say NYPD’s Most Violent Tactics Have Returned


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