Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams chastised both police and teen protestors at a press conference on Tuesday morning over the charged nature of three recent encounters. The first two were accompanied by allegations of excessive force on the part of the police; the third were charges of destructive and assaultive behavior by thousands of young people protesting what they say was brutal conduct by the police during those incidents. Many of them also participated in a mass jumping of turnstiles as part of the demonstration.
“The people who were jumping the turnstile in the train station,” said Adams, “who said ‘F the police,’ who were spitting in the face of the police officers, who had a damaging cause; I don’t know who they’re talking for, but they’re not speaking for me. That is not how I feel about the men and women who protect the city every day. And people who believe we can live in this city without proper law enforcement — they need to move somewhere else,” said Adams.
Proper law enforcement was what the young people were protesting, however. And it was reported that their anger over what they charge has been injustice and brutality, young Black and brown people of New York City channeled their anger into Saturday’s protest, which, police say, devolved into spitting at police and damaging property.
Adams made his remarks flanked by a group of young people as he announced a new youth peer-to-peer training initiative in which young people living in homeless shelters will be taught to lead sessions on how to interact with law enforcement. He has also called for new training of police. Directly after the first incident, he quickly convened a Know Your Rights training led by former NYPD officers. Adams, himself a former police captain, is a co-founder of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care.
On Friday, cops acting on what they say was a report of a man with a gun, chased 19-year-old Adrian Napier down the Pacific Street entrance to the Atlantic Avenue station. He hopped the turnstile and fled by boarding a southbound 4 train. A dozen cops were waiting for him at Franklin Avenue, the next stop, and stood with guns aimed at him through the closed subway car windows, yelling at the conductor to open the doors.
It took the conductor almost a full minute to do so; the delay may have been the result of a measure of the same shock and terror – witnessed via video – of the people on board the train, many of them high school students. They fled, panicked, to the far ends of the car. When the doors were opened a throng of police rushed in, throwing the young man to the ground, covering him with their weight and screaming into his face, before aggressively dragging him off the train.
Failing to find a gun on Napier, they arrested him for theft of services for jumping the turnstile.
On Saturday an incident took place that was characterized as a “brawl” between cops and young people at the downtown Jay Street- Metrotech subway station. Responding to a report of teens fighting on the platform, cops entered into the fray, with one landing what video shows was an unprovoked punch in the face of a Black boy, He then went to punch 15-year-old Science Skills Center High School student Benjamin Marshall in the head. His father, Anthony Noel, said his son went down into the station to retrieve his bookbag, which had disappeared when the crowd rushed down the stairs. Noel was able to piece together what happened from witnesses and multiple cellphone videos, although he was initially told at the 84th Precinct that his son was being held because he assaulted an officer.
“There was a lot of cops, a lot of students,” said Noel. “They were arresting a couple people. When he got down on the platform, one of his friends called out to him, and when he looked over, he got punched multiple times by a police officer in his head. Then he was slammed to the ground.
“About six of them or eight of them were on top of him. One put his knee in his neck. He kept saying, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,’ and they would not let up. They handcuffed him. Slammed him into a sign.”
Benjamin’s parents, Anthony Noel and Victoria Noel, are represented by Attorney Sandford Rubenstein and have just filed a $5 million civil suit against on his behalf against the city, the NYPD and the officers, whose names have not been released.