I arrived in New York City on June 2 after an exciting two days covering the protests and riots in Washington, DC. (You can see my reports at StopAntifa.com)
While I absolutely knew the Big Apple was going to be significantly more chaotic than the capitol had been, what happened the night of June 2 will be an unfortunate memory I carry with me for a very long time.
I started by covering the BLM marching line, a largely peaceful exercise that included more than 1,500 demonstrators.
The most interesting thing I noted from the daylight demonstrations was the clear divide that existed between some protestors on the issue of looting. While in Union Square, I filmed a young mother confronting protestors on the issue of keeping the demonstrations peaceful. She passionately begged demonstrators to ensure they did not participate in the looting and riots that were sure to follow sunset, telling them it was going to lead to harm, police brutality, and a bad perception of the BLM protests. While many demonstrators agreed with her, two dismissed her views. One likened looting to reparations for slavery, while another condemned her for the colour of her skin – she was African-American, but of a lighter complexion, and was told she had no right to tell darker-complexioned protestors what to do.
As dusk approached, a protestor began to warn the demonstration’s leaders to not march down certain streets. He claimed looters were waiting on those streets for the marching line to converge so they could begin their destruction, and then slip into the crowd easily.
When the line reached Broadway and Foulton, the first major incident of rioting occurred with looters breaking into a Zara clothing store by ripping down the plywood door guard and smashing through the glass.
The tension between protestors and looters noted earlier in the day would come into full swing at that moment, with a furious protestor lunging at the looters entering the store and throwing them to the ground. He was trying to stop the looting and screaming, “You are not an ally!” at the people attempting to thieve from Zara.
Within seconds, a groundswell of NYPD would emerge on the street, but I was shocked at the response.
While literally DOZENS of looters were dispersing from the area – arms full of stolen goods from the Zara – NYPD began to make arrests of… anyone. Even bystanders across the street who were simply watching the chaos unfold. In fact, I did not see a single actual looter grabbed by NYPD.
I began to film the Lieutenant and his officers brutally taking down bystanders and legitimate protestors. The Lieutenant was bludgeoning people with his riot helmet, while NYPD were brutally shoving a man’s face into the pavement of the road. Things were unfolding so quickly I did not have time to upload as I was filming.
NYPD approached me from behind as I was filming, circling around me and demanding I leave the area. I had been holding up my press credentials the entire time, and began to call out “I am media – media is exempted from the curfew!” in an attempt to get them to stop pushing and prodding me with their batons.
One NYPD officer used his nightstick to push me backwards, which resulted in me falling into another NYPD officer that was behind me. The moment I did, I was grabbed by the throat and thrown into the intersection.
I stumbled and screamed, attempting to flee the forest of police I was stuck within, and made it to the next parallel sidewalk. I was backing up the sidewalk while continuing to film, moving away from the officers.
It was then that I saw the Lieutenant from earlier, the one who had been brutalizing protestors, point at me and order his officers to arrest me. The whole time, I was calling out my role as a reporter, insisting I was exempt from the curfew as per orders from Mayor DeBlasio.
After I was arrested, I was taken to Brooklyn’s Central Processing. I was locked in a cell that was far too small to accommodate the nearly 20 women packed inside. We were back-to-chest, and some of the women were injured and in extreme pain, but left untreated and uncared for.
After I was processed, I was moved to another cell that was infested with cockroaches and piles of vomit, where I stayed until 3:30am. While in Brooklyn, I met some of the others who had been detained, which included two care aids who were with their severely ill patient when they were arrested. They told me their patient, who had a chest catheter, had been begging police not to take away her aids as she needed them to clean her medical equipment and give her medicine. There was also a nurse in full scrubs at the Brooklyn lockup.
I was then moved to Manhattan Central Processing, where I spent two days in custody, awaiting a judge to plead my case with. I shared a cell with nine other women, and, without beds, we were forced to share three small metal benches to try and sleep. We were given little food (which included a lovely sandwich on green-mold infested bread, some milk, and a cup of bran cereal), little water, and had no space to wash ourselves. I’ll never forget the women who were staying strong, making light of the situation by yelling the correctional officers for breaking social distancing.
Two pregnant women were detained with me, one of whom was severely ill and routinely had to go to the hospital. She was bleeding, and they would not even give her a band-aid and clean wipes to clean up her blood. Another woman was on her menstrual cycle and was denied sanitary product.
While quashing the destructive loots and riots is important, considering the damage they cause to communities who then are forced to live in fear – It needs to be said that NYPD was not targeting looters. They were targeting bodies. Anybody they could count towards their total of those arrested during the protests, so as to make themselves seem efficient. But law enforcement is only efficient when the law is being enforced on those who are breaking it – otherwise its plain and simple authoritarianism.
What I saw in NYC on June 2, and throughout the two days I was incarcerated for practicing journalism, was authoritarianism. It was not law enforcement. It has no place in a democratic, developed nation, and it should be uniformly condemned by anyone who cares for the principles that make America great.