Councilman Speaks Out About Run-In With Police

Jumaane Williams, who was detained after Monday's West Indian Day Parade, gives his account of the incident.

A day after he was at the West Indian-American Day Carnival in Prospect Heights, Councilman Jumaane Williams held a press conference Tuesday at City Hall to tell his side of the story. 

Williams, D-Brooklyn, was joined by Kirsten John Foy, a high-ranking legislative aide also detained Monday afternoon after he and Williams tried to enter an area closed to the public near the Brooklyn Museum.

According to Williams, the two men easily passed through two police checkpoints on their way from Grand Army Plaza to the museum on Eastern Parkway.

However, it was at the third checkpoint that the two men were told by rank-and-file police that they could go no further—despite showing city-issued identification, Williams said. 

"I saw two 'white-shirts' to my left and I went to go over to them," Williams said, referring to the white uniform worn by high-ranking police officials. "They pushed me back, and I told them, 'Don't push me,' telling them who I was. That again, did nothing."

Foy described a more violent encounter.

The legislative aide to city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio claimed a police officer "grabbed him by the neck" and, when that move failed to knock him off his feet, used a "judo leg sweep" to knock him to the ground. 

A video of the incident shows Foy, wearing a casual blue shirt, backing away from a police officer.

"While in retreat, they said that I wasn't moving fast enough. In retreat, they found that I was not complying fast enough," Foy said. "So in retreat, they decided to attack me."

Williams said police commissioner Ray Kelly promised an investigation into the incident. 

"As the police department has indicated, they are investigating this incident and will take all appropriate steps once it is concluded," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg's press secretary, Stu Loeser. 

Several city and state officials at today's press conference praised the "professionalism" of both Williams and Foy in response to the incident, calling for a thorough investigation as well as substantive changes including an end to the controversial police practice known as "stop-and-frisk."

"There is nothing that indicates that the councilmember or Mr. Foy did anything wrong," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who called the police response "unacceptable."

State Sen. Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn, a former police officer at the 88th Precinct in Clinton Hill, chided the NYPD for its tactics in response to over the past holiday weekend. 

"The most draconian procedures happen when crime is high," Adams said. 

Williams and Foy, who are both African-American, said the incident Monday would not have taken place if they were white. 

"If we were elected officials of a different persuasion, we are sure things would have been handled differently," Williams said. "The vast majority of people who disagree with this statement are not black or Latino."

Both men said they weren't looking just for a reprimand of the police officers involved. Rather, they said they would advocate for a change in police policy.

"If it can happen to myself, an elected official, and it can happen to Mr. Foy, who is a high-ranking aide to a citywide elected official, please imagine what can be happening to our black and Latino males every single day," he said. 

Pamela Yard September 07, 2011 at 01:39 AM
I think the police were acting in a racist manor all day. I heard naSTY COMMENTS BY WHITE POLICE OFFICERS ALL DAY. If this was the St Pattys Day Parade their behavior would have been quite different. What happen to CPR. This needs to stop.
Chris September 07, 2011 at 02:13 PM
Words fly. Bullets fly. Civility dies. Humanity cries. Everyone asks, "Why?" Really? Listen to the stupidity - it's on display all day.
pat September 07, 2011 at 02:32 PM
Can anyone cite the law wherein a City Councilman is allowed access to a closed street? The tape didn't lie, one guy thought it was a good idea to go ghetto by getting in a cop's face, screaming and throwing his hands around. Act like a gentleman, get treated like a gentleman. Act the fool, it's on you. This was a persons comment on another site and makes a good point. Why in the world are these guys given badges that look like police badges. That is a no go, particularly with someone with a bad attitude. Who knows how this guy has been using it. Take it away from him and give him a business card.
Steven L September 07, 2011 at 02:55 PM
Even after identifying yourselves Mr. Williams and Mr. Foy, you both have no right passing though a Frozen Zone, unless authorized. You were both asked to leave that area and you then refused. The police had every right detaining you (forcibly if need be) regardless of what color you are or what public office you hold. Maybe you should be more concerned about the bad guys with their guns shooting at cops and innocent people every year.
Steven L September 07, 2011 at 03:10 PM
Gun Control Mr. Mayor? Great idea!! lets take them from the good guy's so the bad guy's will just have them.


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