Police arrested more than a dozen people as thousands of New Yorkers rallied in support of Palestine in Bay Ridge, the home of one of the city’s largest Arab communities, on Saturday.
The rally was organized by Within Our Lifetime, a Palestinian-led community organization. According to Nerdeen Kiswani, chair of Within Our Lifetime, the group started hosting rallies in support of the Palestine following the devastating Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, an Islamic resistance group, on Israel — and the Israeli military’s subsequent attacks in Gaza.
The New York Police Department arrested 19 people during the protest, according to a police spokesperson. During the arrests, first reported by Gothamist, 16 people were issued criminal court summonses for disorderly conduct and three were issued desk appearance tickets. Disorderly conduct is defined as actions with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk.
The NYPD requires permits for processions, parade, or race within the city. WOL did not clarify if they obtained a permit for the march but pointed to guidance from the New York Civil Liberties Union, which states permits aren’t required for rallies or marches held on the sidewalk. However, permits are needed for any demonstrations happening the street. Most of the protest on Oct. 21 took place in the street.
Nearly 50,000 people were at the southern Brooklyn protest over the weekend when officers told them they had five minutes to disperse or they would be arrested.
Following this instruction, Kiswani said she immediately started trying to get people out of the streets and onto the sidewalks however police had allegedly blocked off the side streets and wouldn’t let the group move forward, leaving thousands of people only one way out — a police tactic often referred to as ‘”kettling.”
A huge #FreePalestine protest marched in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn on Saturday. After NYPD blocked & tried to end the march, they refused to move & instead attacked the crowd & tried to push the huge crowd onto the sidewalk. Then cops continued hitting & brutally arresting people. pic.twitter.com/9M5G1B7NZn
— Ash J (@AshAgony) October 23, 2023
Police also allegedly told the crowd they were not allowed to be on the street, however, the sidewalks weren’t big enough to fit everyone. Videos showed thousands of protestors filling the street and sidewalks.
NYPD representatives did not respond to request for comment.
Within Our Lifetime has held multiple public demonstrations since the Israel-Hamas tension started growing this month, however this is the first instance where they felt such a heavy police presence.
Kiswani said the response could be due to what she said is the neighborhood’s racism toward Arabs. Bay Ridge, an area where 7,771 are reported to have Arab ancestry, has been the site of many anti-Arab attacks including an incident earlier this month where three victims were attacked by men shouting anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim remarks near 86th Street and 4th Avenue.
“Instead of the police protecting us, we feel that same racist energy from them,” Kiswani told Brooklyn Paper. “They can’t prevent us from using our constitutional First Amendment right.”
The goal of the movement was to raise awareness on what was taking place in the Middle East and hold elected officials accountable for their lack of support, according to Kiswani. Gaza experienced further devastation on Oct. 17 when an attack of Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City reportedly killed 470 civilians and injured hundreds more.
On Oct. 13, Palestinians fled from northern Gaza following Israeli military’s instruction for the estimated 1 million civilians to head south ahead of a ground takeover. According to CNN reports, Israeli airstrikes killed some of those Palestinians who were following evacuation orders.
“We are taking to the streets to not only demand an end to all U.S. military aid to Israel, an end to the genocide and an end to the siege, but full liberation for Gaza and all of Palestine now,” Kiswani said in a statement.
An online post from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, reported over 5,000 deaths — 2,005 of which were children. The United Nations reported similar numbers and say women and children make up 62% of fatalities since Oct.7.