A group of protesters arrested for blocking traffic yesterday during a World AIDS Day civil disobedience action near City Hall say they were not only denied dinner while being booked at the 7th Precinct, but that police also ate two pizzas that were specifically ordered for them by their supporters. This is already the second pizza pilfering scandal to rock the NYPD in as many years; last time it was the "hipsters" who suffered. In this latest incident, police allegedly encouraged the detained activists' supporters to order the pizza.
One of the arrested protesters, David Thorpe, says police at the precinct actually gave the pizza menu to the activists' legal support team, assuring them the food would be given to the protesters. "They even told us we needed to provide paper plates and plastic cups," says Thorpe, adding that the legal support team ordered the pizza from the nearby Mini Munchies Pizza. Two large cheese pizzas and liters of soda were delivered to the precinct at 4:40 p.m., but they it never made it to the demonstrators' lips.
"We could see the empty pizza boxes in the trash, and the empty plastic bottles," said Charles King, President and CEO of Housing Works. "We confronted the officers at the precinct about stealing the pizzas and they just smiled and laughed at us and didn’t deny it." Thorpe tells us that after being detained for nine hours, the hungry protesters were just about to be taken to Central Booking around 9 p.m., when, in a surprise twist, police offered to buy them pizza—if they were willing to wait. We're told that Susan Stetzer, the District Manager of Community Board 3, had been informed of the incident and called the precinct to tell police to feed the protesters.
"They were worried about us telling people, so they offered to buy us pizza," says Thorpe. But after nine hours at the station, the eight protesters decided not to wait and to move forward with the ordeal. "We weren’t touching their dirty pizza,” says King. "We knew it was cheesy hush money." Housing Works, which fronted $30 for the soda and pies, is demanding restitution from the NYPD, an apology, and a pledge to deliver food in a timely manner to all people they arrest.
The police admit that they ate them pizza, but by accident. NYPD spokesman Paul Browne tells City Room, "Any way you slice it, it was an honest mistake. [The officers] began to consume pizza delivered at the desk in the mistaken belief that Task Force officers had ordered it for their fellow officers, a common practice when outside units make arrests in another command." But Browne also says "prisoner meals must be provided by the department itself," not by outsiders... which makes one wonder why police would provide the legal support team with a menu, as the protesters' claim.