2007_06_blackgold.jpgTo anyone attending next year's Puerto Rican Day Parade, we have this suggestion: Don't wear black-and-gold. At a press conference, parade organizers decried arrests of people who were not engaged in any illegal activity during Sunday's event. National Puerto Rican Day Parade president Madelyn Lugo said, "We are very disappointed and alarmed that these violations of civil rights should occur."

The organizers, who admitted they warned the NYPD that the Latin Kings might try to join the parade, presented one teen who was arrested and locked up for over a day: Thomas Scull said he was nabbed because he was wearing black and gold sneakers, "They automatically assumed I was a Latin King. I was going to have fun. ... So now I can't wear my sneakers because the police say so?"

The NYPD continued to say the arrests were justified, given the threat of gang activity and other illegal behavior. Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said that a 55-year-old postal worker from NJ mentioned in an earlier NY Times story about some wrongful arrests was probably a 52-year-old postal worker from NJ - the Daily News has an editorial criticizing the Times and explaining why the postal worker was arrested:

The Times also reported that some arrestees said they had no gang affiliation and cops had indiscriminately swept them up. This group included a postal worker from Paterson, N.J., described as too embarrassed to identify himself.

Well, there was a good reason for his shame. This arrestee is one Carlos Cabrejos, charged with felony sex abuse on the accusation of a 17-year-old girl, who said he had rubbed his exposed penis against her. No matter, The Times had painted a picture of cops gone wild, so parade leaders like Manny Mirabal (photo) accused the NYPD yesterday of being unable to distinguish between gang members and law-abiding citizens...

By the NYPD's count, 198 of those arrested were affiliated with gangs. The arrests took place in various locations throughout the day. They often involved people allegedly trying to force their way into the march. Is it possible that among the 208, someone did not deserve to be pinched? Yes. But there is no evidence police engaged in mass, indiscriminate arrests - even if some New Yorkers stand ready to jump to that conclusion at every groundless accusation.

Lawyer Norman Siegel tells the NY Times that based the information made public so far, it seems that the NYPD will have a hard time "to prove unlawful assembly" - which is what many of the arrests were for. We have a feeling the fallout from Sunday's Puerto Rican Day Parade will end sometime after next year's parade.