City Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) and Kirsten Foy, Public Advocate de Blasio's Community Affairs Director, were arrested this afternoon after the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn. NBC New York reports that based on witness accounts, "the confusion began when Williams and...Foy...attempted to exit the parade route to attend a luncheon at the Brooklyn Museum. After passing through an initial police checkpoint, Williams and his group were blocked by three police officers from exiting the route." And de Blasio said that Foy was thrown to the ground by cops.
Williams and Foy were headed to a lunch at the Brooklyn Museum. The Post's police sources claim the pair "were detained for walking through a frozen zone for emergency personnel only and were detained only until their identities were confirmed." But de Blasio think that's BS, "It’s outrageous. They had their IDs. It’s unacceptable that this had happened." And Capital New York's Azi Paybarah got an account from Williams' spokesman Stefan Ringel:
Williams and Foy and several others city employees were blocked by a police officer from entering the parade route near the Brooklyn Library, on Eastern Parkway. The officer said the area was "restricted" and that no "civilians" were permitted there.
Williams and Foy then identified themselves and Williams showed his city-issued ID identifying him as a member of the City Council. The office still refused to let them pass. Williams called a police chief to explain the situation.
At that time, the entourage was surrounded by 15 to 25 police officers. At some point, there was a physical altercation, with Foy being tripped and ending up on the ground. (Ringel, who was present, insists neither Williams nor Foy initiated any physical contact with the officers.)
The men were taken away but ultimately released without being charged with anything.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said, “A crowd formed and an unknown individual punched a police captain on the scene" and then "were brought across the street and detained there until their identities were established, and then released." But de Blasio told the Post, "I fear that police may have looked at Jumaane, who is a young man with dreadlocks, and not beleived he is a Council member." He added to the NY Times, "It’s broad daylight, they get thrown to the ground, they both get arrested. If that’s what happens to an elected official and a senior appointee, imagine what happens to a general member of the public."
The NYPD is investigating the incident. Mayor Bloomberg nor City Council Speaker Quinn commented. Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries issued a statement, “The unjustified arrest and treatment of Councilman Jumaane Williams is further evidence of the siege mentality the NYPD has unleashed against black men in New York City. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Ray Kelly should apologize forthwith and make sure all responsible officers are strongly disciplined. Mayor Bloomberg should end the out of control stop and frisk practices of the NYPD immediately. The procedure unnecessarily targets law-abiding citizens and poisons the relationship between the black community and the police. Enough is enough.'"