Thursday, November 6, 2008

NYPD sends Riot Police to stop Obama celebration. Obama Supporters Arrested.


photo by Ryan Muir

UPDATE Nov 6th:

My family first came to Williamsburg 4 generations ago. But even if you’ve just moved there, you’re still a New Yorker, and you’re still entitled to protection by the police, and you should never, EVER be attacked by your own police.

Over the last 8 years, we’ve all witnessed police brutality while we protested and it seemed to be part of the whole Bush regime. But with this election, as a Nation, we’ve come together to say ENOUGH!

We’ve said it’s time for a change. We WILL NOT tolerate police behavior like this anymore. If the NYPD isn’t going to protect us in our own neighborhood - they can get out.

It’s great that the Times picked up this story and decided to ask the NYPD about it. It would be even better if they followed up on all the eye witness reports that contradict the NYPD account.

In the meantime - I would encourage everyone who was witness to this stormtrooper behavior to fill out an official civilian complaint review form here:


UPDATE Nov 5th
: Welcome readers.
(This post was blogged by the New York Times twice today.)

Tonight, in Williamsburg Brooklyn - hundreds of young people, feeling patriotic for the first time in their lives, took American flags and went out into the streets. They danced, sang, rode bikes and were smiling, cheering and chanting for Obama.

Celebrating Obama's Victory on Bedford

Celebrating Obama's Victory on Bedford

The celebration was entirely peaceful. It was patriotic young Americans celebrating our new president. They were chanting "USA...USA...USA" and "Obama....Obama....Obama...."

Celebrating Obama's Victory on Bedford

And then the NYPD showed up and started pushing people. And when the people didn't stop celebrating, and more people came, the NYPD decided that the appropriate response was to send in the riot police with sticks.

The riot police then started arresting people, throwing them to the ground, hitting them. Dragging them off with bleeding heads and twisted arms. The crowd was celebrating peacefully.

I spoke to many of the officers who said they did NOT vote for Obama and didn't see this as a celebration. I spoke to officers who said that they didn't like how much they would be 'taxed by Obama'. There were vans full of white officers brought in. Something very wrong happened in Williamsburg tonight.

This is a prime example of why it's time for CHANGE in New York City. The Bloomberg Administration must go.

The local media needs to do a serious story about the shameful response of the NYPD to a totally peaceful celebration on election day. The question that needs to be asked is "Why did the police show up to an Obama rally and start arresting people?"

And the Obama campaign needs to comment on this immediately.

We have a tape full of video of people singing dancing and celebrating and then suddenly the police in riot gear arresting the celebrating voters, dragging them away with bleeding heads. Is that what democracy and a peaceful transition of power looks like in America?

We'll be posting the video to youtube soon.

Videos are starting to come up on youtube. Here is a search result list.

The NYPD didn't send Riot Police to Columbia where the same kind of celebration was occurring.

I'm going to collect first hand accounts of the night that I find here. Post yours in the comments:

The New York Times has reports from other spontaneous parties that broke out in New York, many of which ALSO stopped traffic.

"I came across the scene on N7th on my way home - coming out of the subway. I can fully attest as to the peaceful nature of this gathering. Some people were drinking - most weren't. By and large people were just standing around, elated, enjoying watching and spending time with other elated people. If you moved away from the crowd at around 1:30 am or so you could see the forces amassing. The cops made no attempt to peacefully curb the excess of the crowd. Several people witnessing the amassing of troops were telling them that they were about to incite a riot. The worst offense I witnessed was that the intersection of N7th and bedford was blocked by the crowed. But come on - New York is a pedestrian city. Get over the temporary lack of vehicular transportation access and celebrate life and history once in a while. There was no riot, the cops over reacted. Period." (From Free Williamsburg)

"I left as things heated up with the cops, but what my husband and I saw last night in our neighborhood was incredible. We have been devastated and unrepresented for EIGHT YEARS! We have the right to celebrate. People were singing the national anthem and "Give Peace A Chance". If you have a problem with that, I got nothin' for you. And you know what, every person I spoke to DID register and DID vote. It was beautiful and amazing and I applaud every Brooklynite today. WE DID IT!" (From Free Williamsburg)

"I was right on the southeast corner of N 7th and Bedford. I was there when it started with 1 person cheering for joy in the street to hundreds of people cheering for victory.

Then it turned for the worse a couple hours later.

A few minutes after the riot cops rolled in, I saw one cop break a beer bottle on the ground with his baton for no reason at all amidst all the positive energy and celebrating crowd. I assumed for intimidation purposes. People looked up at him and exclaimed "hey that isn't safe" as one girl used her foot to try and push the shards to the side against the curb. Then after the first beat down occured, one innocent bystander was pushed back and I saw him fall on this glass with his hands. I could only see this one guy being held down by 3-4 cops, then a slew of other cops hitting other people nearby the Oasis falafel place. It was hard to keep track because I couldn't believe what was going on.

There were no large amounts of bottles being thrown whatsoever, these were just sounds of broken bottles of a car cop rolling over trash bags on the street.

The second wave of brutality occured after someone flung an empty beer bottle over at the cops, which I admit was a stupid move but I think by this point people were extremely upset by what began as a joyous election celebration into a Bedford ave. nightmare. After the bottle was thrown, riot cops charged forward, walking swiftly then people got upset and more brutality occured.

What the hell happened???? There was absolutly NO NEED for any of this violence." (From Free Williamsburg)

"People were celebrating by the Bedford Avenue L-stop in Williamsburg/Brooklyn. Like everywhere else. All of a sudden the police officers use brutality against a random and innocent bystander. Suddenly there were cops in riot gear all over the intersection, pushing and hitting people, running them into the garbage, trying to get access to rooftops even (though it looked like no one wanted to open their door for the NYPD).
This is very disturbing. I was so proud to witness this historic moment at various locations in the city, and all of a sudden I feel like I am in Jim Crow land, in the third reich. What is going on???? Why is the police so aggressive?" (From the New York Times)

"things got very very ugly, the police got outrageously aggressive, beating people up, needlessly, in what was a beautiful night. very sad." (From Free Williamsburg)

"Does anyone have photos or video of the police brutality? I was there and I'm super-fucking pissed off. I'm trying to write a Op. Ed. piece and it'd be great to have some accompanying material.

Things I witnessed:
- An officer striking the ground with his steel baton in an attempt to intimidate, breaking several glass bottles which sent shards everywhere.
- A photographer was slammed up against a trashcan, shattering his camera.
- A young girl curled in the fetal position was hit three times by an officer with a baton as her protesting boyfriend was dragged away.
- A man carrying his dog was cross-checked from behind by a cop's baton, causing him to drop his dog.

That said, I saw exactly one bottle thrown. And was into a garbage truck as it drove by.

When I first saw the violence directed at civilians, I called 911 and filed an internal affairs investigation. The detective on the line asked me for badge numbers and I gave him as many as I could.

If you're as pissed as I am, please get in touch." (From Free Williamsburg)

"All over NYC, there were impromptu celebrations just like this one (harlem, bed-stuy, etc) - just ask around. Only in Williamsburg did the police show up AND show up in Riot Gear.

This along with the insane targeting of critical mass cyclists needs to stop.

We need to organize our community to protect ourselves and our neighbors from these angry McCain supporting cops." (From Free Williamsburg)


William said...

i look forward to seeing the UNEDITED and UNCENSORED video of this episode - please post it on youtube ASAP

Winston Smith said...

The level of aggression was totally uncalled for. I personally had my head smashed against the pavement during my arrest and spent two hours in holding cell with my head gushing blood. I'll be filing complaints today.

ehouse said...

If anyone has video and an incident you want to report you should also put it on ireport- it might help spread the word.

Michael said...

The more I think about this story the more important I think it is. For a few reasons.

Here's one. I don't actually want to tell my family and my co-workers about it. After the amazing victory we had last night, I don't want to say that this is the America we still live in.

I want to believe that we live in a new America, a new country where this doesn't happen.

So, maybe that's naive - maybe change doesn't come that quickly and easily. But I wanted to believe that an historic election like this would actually cause a change in the way everything worked. That somehow with an African-American man whose middle name is Hussein as president, the riot police wouldn't be sent out as a show of force to 'keep the people in line'. But they were.

And, all at once, I'm both ashamed and proud to be American. But last night, I only wanted to be proud, for the first time, to be American.

Spokes... said...

Unfortunately this is not new in and won’t change until people take the same interest in local political races as was evidenced in this national contest. Stop swallowing the politicians’ tripe and work to take control of your city the same way others successfully worked for an “Obamanation”. His election proves it can be done if you have the will!

By the way…ever wonder what happened to the rookie cop that pushed the cyclist in critical mass a few months ago, then falsified the arrest report…I have and my bet is that he is still on the force…that would be a “dollars to doughnuts” bet should anyone on the job care to share their insight.

Michael said...

Update: The Police respond. I suggest if you were there that you comment on their response.

City Room Posts Police Response

Michael said...

Sorry here's the real link:

Police Response

molly said...

wow. what a drag. totally different experience than what we had in san francisco. we spilled out into the streets, partied like crazy, the cops showed up ...and they just blocked traffic from running into us. every spontaneous block party was the same way here. crazy different, eh?
so sorry to hear it went down that way.

PM said...

Not to beat a dead horse but I just want to say that I was there, right in front, and the police provoked this. It was pretty obvious they were pissed off to begin with. They didn't ask anyone to move. They just started shoving people. They were looking to get aggressive and they did. I'm not a hipster or a protester. I usually side with the cops in cases of wannabe hippie faux civil disobedience. Not this time. They were wrong wrong wrong.