NYPD Out of Control: Videos Depict Cops Ramming Squad Cars into Protesters

Police officers tried to run over anti-police-brutality protesters in several incidents on Saturday night.
Police officers tried to run over anti-police-brutality protesters in several incidents on Saturday night.

Police are using their squad cars as deadly weapons in their response on Saturday to protesters decrying police violence against people of color, most recently the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Videos filmed on Saturday by witnesses show multiple incidents of NYPD officers using their vehicles to intimidate, endanger and willfully attempt to injure.

This incident, on Flatbush Avenue, occurred at around 8 p.m.:

The same incident from another angle makes the cop intimidation and violence appear even more willful.

From a closer angle, the actions of the police are horrifying:

Seeing the above video, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called for the officers to be “brought to justice.”

A few minutes before these videos, Daniel Moritz-Rabson filmed this video, which is closer to Grand Army Plaza, where peaceful protesters had gathered. The squad car in question, number 5146, is from the 70th Precinct, which is south of the area in question:

The police violence on Saturday is an escalation of earlier aggression by police during the two-plus days of protests over the Minneapolis Police killing of George Floyd earlier in the week, an outrage that has inflamed the nation and sent millions of Americans into the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Floyd is just the latest unarmed black person killed by police, a growing list that includes Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile and others.

On Friday, a police officer used his unmarked car door to injure a protester:

The above incident earned a Cronkite-esque critique from one of the city’s media consciences:

And on Thursday, a cop brutalized a protester in Union Square, using his department-issued bike as a battering ram:

It bears repeating that 51 percent of New York City police officers live outside the five boroughs. Recently, people have been posting pictures of NYPD employees’ cars outside station houses when the car features white supremacist imagery.

This photo came from a Brooklynite who spotted a car parked in NYPD-only parking outside the 78th Precinct station house with a “3 Percenter” sticker on it:

The “3 Percenters” are a far-right, pro-gun, anti-government paramilitary group. The name comes from the specious claim that only three percent of American colonists supported the revolution against the British crown.

One unifying force on the far right is contempt for the media. HuffPost claimed one of its reporters was taken into custody by the NYPD during the Brooklyn protest:

Police were also aggressive with reporters on Saturday night in Crown Heights, according to a video posted by reporter Myles Miller:

Mayor de Blasio on Saturday night.
Mayor de Blasio on Saturday night.

In a hastily called news conference at 11:30 p.m., the mayor blamed a few protesters whom, he claimed, were “simply out there to cause violence and hatred towards our police officers.”

“That few was systematic in their efforts to harm police officers and to cause damage to police vehicles,” he added. “That’s not going to get us anywhere.

“It’s been a very difficult day for our officers, some of whom have been put in dangerous situations — that’s not appropriate,” the mayor added. “We believe in people demonstrating, but not attacking police officers.”

The mayor also raised the specter of “outside agitators,” though he presented no evidence.

“We’re hearing from elected officials who are very concerned about people coming from outside their neighborhoods,” he said. “I am hearing from community members that people are coming from outside of their community. We’re hearing this from all over the country, people coming in to foment these protests…and create a violent, negative situation with these police.”

Asked about the videos above, he said, “It’s inappropriate for protesters to surround a police vehicle and threaten police officers. It’s wrong on its face. … It’s clear that a different element has come into play here, who are trying to hurt police officers and damage their vehicles.

“The video was upsetting and I wish the officers hadn’t done that,” the mayor added. “But they didn’t start that situation. It started with people converging on a vehicle and the officers had to get out of that situation. I want to see us get these violent protesters off our streets. Everyday New Yorkers do not do this to police officers. This is not what protests are like in New York City. I am not going to blame officers who were put in an impossible situation. I wish the officers had a different approach, but the protesters did the wrong thing.”

De Blasio’s reference to outside agitators is similar to what Minnesota officials had said after protests broke out in the Twin Cities. But those officials were later forced to backtrack when it turned out that the vast majority of arrested protesters were from the Gopher State.

After Mayor de Blasio’s press conference, negative reviews started pouring in. Queens Council Member Danny Dromm called the NYPD “out of control”:

State Senator Jessica Ramos suggested the mayor is shameless:

On Sunday morning, Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Danny Harris put out the following statement in opposition to the mayor’s comments:

We are deeply disturbed by videos showing NYPD officers driving SUVs into crowds of people during last night’s protest in Brooklyn. We demand a full investigation into these events, and for our mayor to hold those responsible accountable. Such brutal tactics, like using 6,000-pound SUVs as weapons against people, must be immediately rooted out of the NYPD by Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Shea. These actions are unacceptable and run counter to the very concept of street safety and Vision Zero that the NYPD is supposed to uphold.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG