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Tensions in the Bronx: Mayor defends NYPD after protesters arrested in Mott Haven

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Posted at 2:53 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 14:53:37-04

MOTT HAVEN, the Bronx — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea defended the NYPD after the department faced criticism over arrests of protesters in the Bronx Thursday night.

The mayor said during his daily briefing that most protests across the city were peaceful, however arrests were made in the Bronx, which has been specifically targeted by alleged looters, after protesters were accused of throwing bottles at officers, encouraging violence.

At least one officer was hurt, the NYPD said.

"This is something that the NYPD saw coming, an organization that literally was encouraging violence," de Blasio said.

The mayor added that he does not stand for peaceful protesters being attacked by officers, but claimed the situation in Mott Haven was not a peaceful demonstration.

According to Commissioner Shea, the NYPD received information regarding a group’s intent to destroy property, injure officers and cause mayhem in the community.

Firearms, gasoline and numerous weapons were recovered, according to Shea.

“This was about tearing down society,” he said. Officers “got those agitators out” before they caused problems.

However, a reporter told de Blasio and Shea that what he saw was “nothing” like what they were describing, citing peaceful protesters were kettled — or contained to a limited area — by cops.

Video posted by Twitter user Alan Williams shows officers arrested peaceful protesters along 136th Street as soon as the 8 p.m. curfew went into effect, he said.

“They trapped them on this narrow street and began making arrests. They even arrested members of the National Lawyers Guild,” Williams tweeted.

Another video posted by Mohammed Elshamy showed NYPD trapping protesters. One protester was seen crying while others can be heard screaming for an ambulance or medic.

Witnesses said more than a dozen people were arrested.

De Blasio and Shea both told the reporter that they “value” what he was saying. De Blasio said he does not “accept peaceful protesters being beaten, period” and further review will be done.

Shea, on the other hand, said the reporter may not have seen “the big picture” since he was in the middle of the incident.

Despite criticism over the 8 p.m. curfew, the mayor said it has helped with the decrease in destruction and violence in the city. He added the curfew will continue through Sunday evening as planned, despite some signs that the city is calming and it might no longer be necessary.

De Blasio addressed the issue of officers hiding their badges and not wearing body cameras, saying cops need to have their badge names and numbers shown and body cameras must be on to ensure trust and safety of everyone.

The mayor also promised unspecified police reform during the remaining year and a half of his administration, and expressed opposition to cutting the agency's budget, questioning why the city would cut the budget of the department that is protecting residents.

NYC has been part of nationwide protests, demanding an end to police brutality after 46-year-old George Floyd died under police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. All four officers involved have since been fired and face charges.

On Thursday, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer spoke at Floyd's Brooklyn memorial shortly after de Blasio – who was booed by the crowd. Stringer urged NYPD's funding be cut.

“The numbers say we spend $6 billion on policing. We don't spend anywhere near that on our community-based organizations,” Stringer noted.