The NYPD planned a deliberate attack on Black Lives Matter protesters in June, human rights report says

A man holds a sign during a protest amid nationwide unrest following the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Miami, Florida, U.S., May 31, 2020. Maria Alejandra Cardona/Reuters
  • The New York Police Department deliberately carried out a planned attack on protesters demonstrating against police brutality on June 4, according to a report published Wednesday by Human Rights Watch.
  • On June 4, police struck protesters with their batons, shot pepper-spray at them, and zip-tied their hands behind their backs, the report says.
  • Based on dozens of interviews with protesters and video analysis, the organisation in its report concluded that the NYPD conduct displayed on June 4 “amounts to serious violations of international human rights law.”
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A human rights organisation released a report Wednesday saying the New York Police Department in June deliberately planned and executed a brutal attack on Black Lives Matter protesters.

On June 4, demonstrators protesting police brutality in a Bronx, New York, neighbourhood were met with severe opposition from “scores of police officers with riot gear, including helmets, shields, and batons,” said the report, published by Human Rights Watch.

These officers began attacking the 300 or so protesters, “whaling their batons, beating people from car tops, shoving them down to the ground, and firing pepper spray in their faces,” the report says. Some officers also zip-tied the hands and wrists of multiple protesters and medics on site.

Protesters came away from the clashes with bloody faces and numb hands from sitting on the ground while zip-tied for hours. Medics and protesters who were on the scene told Human Rights Watch in its investigation that they saw people carried away on medical stretchers. Some people were “visibly bleeding” from their head bandages, one medic who had been zip-tied said.

Just hours before the demonstration began that night, NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said police force during the protests had not been severe enough to have “seriously injured” any protester.

And a day after the demonstration, the report notes, Shea said in a briefing with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio that the attack on the protesters was “a plan which was executed nearly flawlessly.”

“In this particular incident, we had information regarding the intent to destroy property, to injure cops, to cause mayhem, and we had a plan which was executed nearly flawlessly in the Bronx,” Shea said on June 5.

The NYPD did not immediately return a request for comment from Insider asking about the report from Human Rights Watch.

After interviewing 81 protesters and analysing 155 videos from the night, the organisation concluded that the NYPD conduct displayed on June 4 “amounts to serious violations of international human rights law.”

“The conduct also appears to violate civil rights protections under the United States Constitution and provisions of the New York Police Department (NYPD) Patrol Guide,” the report says.

The police arrested at least 263 people that night, according to the report.

Two weeks after the incident, dozens of protesters came forward in a multi-day public hearing hosted by New York Attorney General Letitia James, saying they had been physically abused by police that night.

At that hearing, Commissioner Shea said police were targeted by the protesters. “As police officers were trying to do their jobs, they were attacked with bricks, knives, trash cans, cars, glass bottles, and other projectiles, as well as homemade incendiary devices like Molotov cocktails,” Shea said in his testimony.

Read the full report from Human Rights Watch here.