Rodriguez on His Arrest
November 16th, 2011

For the second time in less than three months, reporters, members of the City Council and other public officials clustered under the overhang at City Hall in the rain to hear a City Council member describe his alleged mistreatment by the New York City Police Department.

This time it was Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who spent about 20 hours in police custody after being arrested by police near Zuccotti Park early Tuesday morning. Rodriguez, who has emerged as a major supporter of Occupy Wall Street, said he received a text message at about 1 a.m. Tuesday alerting him that police seemed to be moving in on the protesters in Zuccotti Park. After his wife repeatedly cautioned him to avoid getting arrested, Rodriguez said he proceeded downtown to see what was happening.

A couple of blocks from Zuccotti Park – and across Broadway from the plaza — Rodriguez said he was confronted by a group of police officers who began pushing him. Even after, he said, he identified himself as a council members — he also said he was wearing a suit, not exactly the standard garb of the Occupy Wall Street crowd – the police kept pushing. Rodriguez said he fell, sustaining a cut, and was arrested.

In the time that followed, Rodriguez said he was kept in a van for two hours. He eventually was taken to 1 Police Plaza, where his lawyers were not allowed to see him – in keeping with police policy that apparently lets attorneys visit their clients in other jails and station houses – but not police headquarters. He was finally released at around 8 p.m. – after being charged with resisting arrest.

Rodriguez denies he resisted the police and has called for an investigation of the incident.

To some officials at the conference, the incident seemed all too similar to the far briefer arrest of Councilmember Jumaane Williams and Kirsten John Foy, an aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, following the West Indian Day Parade on Labor Day. Calling if “odd,” to be back under such similar circumstances, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn said she had already contacted Police Commissioner Ray Kelly telling him the council would want answers to a variety of question about Rodriguez, including why police pushed him to the ground, why he was arrested and charged, and why he was held in the van.

Quinn wondered if Rodriguez had been singled out because he was a council member. Councilmember Fernanado Cabrera wondered if it might have been because Rodriguez is Latino. Williams, he noted, is black (as is Foy).

“What’s going to be next – an Asian America?” Cabrera asked. “We have two of them.”

Others tied Rodriguez’s arrest to the police arrests of journalists during yesterday’s events.

“What has become of New York when people in the media, people who are just doing their jobs, are hauled away and arrested,” State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who, like Rodriguez, represents Washington Heights, said.

Beyond this issues of police conduct, many speakers –- though not all — proclaimed support for Occupy Wall Street and urged people to demonstrate tomorrow, which is being touted as a day of protest culminating in a 5 p.m. rally at Foley Square.

As for the Williams’ case, an Internal Affairs investigation reportedly determined police did use excessive force with him and Foy. Two officers and a supervisor received command disciplines, which often involves a loss of vacation days.

Williams has sought to use the incident to push for changes in the way police treat black and Latino men in the city. If the Rodriguez casesprovides any indication, that has not happened.

By on November 16, 2011, 4:01 pm
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