Jumaane Williams and the Police
September 6th, 2011
Anger and dismay over the police handcuffing of a City Council member and a top political aide following yesterday’s West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn today morphed into a call for changes in police stop and frisk polices and other procedures that target young black and Latino men.
At a crowded press conference on the City Hall steps the council member, Jumaane Williams of East Flatbush, and the aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Kristen John Foy, described their being stopped, handcuffed and briefly taken into custody as they tried to go to the Brooklyn museum yesterday afternoon.
By all accounts, the two men were attempting to enter a restricted – or frozen zone – after the parade. Both had identification and Williams was wearing a lapel pin indicating his membership on the City Council. They reached two checkpoints and the officers at them — probably senior, given that they were wearing white shirts –- allowed them to go through. But, Williams said, police stopped them at a third checkpoint, despite their credential.
“I was actually handcuffed while on then phone with the chief of police telling him what was going on,” Williams recounted.
Both were taken across the street to a synagogue where they were held for about 30 minutes until police established their identities and let them go. Neither man was charged with any wrongdoing.
Police have maintained that during the incident, someone punched a police officer, an account Williams vehemently disputed.
“I defy the NYPD to find one shred of evidence of any police officer being punched in the face,” he said, adding that report was “a bald-faced lie.”
While not criticizing overall police policies, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn echoed Williams on his conduct. “There is nothing, nothing, to indicate the Council member or Mr. Foy did anything wrong, ” she said.
Foy said he was shoved down and cuffed because “in retreat, they [police] decided I wasn’t moving fast enough, in retreat, I wasn’t complying enough.” The reports of the punch, Foy said, showed the police “making up a story to cover themselves.”
The police department has said it is investigating the incident, and, according to Williams, Mayor Michael Bloomberg apologized for it.
Putting this incident in a larger context — after the jump
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