- Two New York State lawmakers filed a suit Monday against the New York Police Department.
- The lawmakers allege that the NYPD illegally detained protestors, beat them with bicycles, and violated their freedom of speech last year.
- The suit names Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, and six other officers.
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Two New York State lawmakers filed a civil rights lawsuit Monday against the New York Police Department, alleging officers “rammed” them and other protestors with bicycles, pepper-sprayed them, and violated their freedom of speech during a Black Lives Matter protest in Brooklyn last year.
The suit was filed by state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson, who both represent Brooklyn, The New York Times first reported.
The suit names Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, and six other officers. Representatives for the NYPD did not immediately return Insider’s request for comment Monday.
“The NYPD has a longstanding track record of successfully protecting the right of the public to protest while ensuring public safety, and is committed to strengthening those efforts. We will review these claims,” said Nick Paolucci, a spokesperson for the New York City Law Department.
According to the lawsuit, the lawmakers allege that officers decided to “arbitrarily” end the protest outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 8 p.m. after hours of demonstrations on May 29, four days after George Floyd was killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.
Floyd’s murder sparked weeks-long protests against racism and police brutality across the US, including in New York City.
According to the lawsuit, officers played a “barely audible recording” to direct protestors to leave, but the lawmakers allege “the officers advanced and attacked the crowd” before the demonstrators had time to clear the area. In the lawsuit, Myrie and Richardson allege that officers “encircled” them with other protesters, rendering it impossible for them to leave the scene.
Then, NYPD officers “rammed” Myrie and other protestors by using their “department-issued bikes as weapons” and sprayed Myrie, Richardson, and others with pepper spray “without notice,” making it “impossible” for them to breathe or see, according to the lawsuit.
The suit says that Myrie had communicated with Chief Jeffrey B. Maddrey, the commanding officer that manages Barclays Center, prior to his attending the protest to let him know that he would be attending. Myrie wore a bright green shirt with “Senator Myrie” inscribed on the back during the protest to make himself easily identifiable, according to the lawsuit.
“Senator Myrie and Assemblywoman Richardson bring this action to vindicate their rights and the rights of their constituents to peacefully stand up for racial justice and speak out against police brutality free from the threat of police violence,” the lawsuit says.