Police clashed with a group of protesters on the Brooklyn Bridge roadway Wednesday as the demonstrators tried to block a larger march of religious and pro-cop groups from crossing the span on their way to Manhattan.
About a dozen activists locked arms on the bridge in opposition to the Jericho March, which started at Cadman Plaza around 9 am and headed for City Hall in the Big Apple on the bridge an hour later. The event, which drew police supporters and some right-wing politicians, was organized by several religious and law enforcement groups in opposition to a recent spike in gun violence.
Before marchers could cross the bridge, police grabbed the seemingly peaceful protesters and violently arrested them, clearing the way for the religious and pro-cop march around 10 am, footage from a Gothamist reporter shows.
NYPD officers just violently arrest about a dozen protesters who’d linked arms to block the police march across Brooklyn Bridge. Members of community affairs unit who made arrests were just marching alongside pro police group pic.twitter.com/mmOZwFyfCM
— Jake Offenhartz (@jangelooff) July 15, 2020
At around 10:30 am, a man on the bridge’s walkway swung a bat at a group of cops who were arresting another man, hitting a white-shirted lieutenant in the head, surveillance footage posted by the Police Department’s Twitter account shows. “Three officers violently attacked by protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. The officers sustained serious injuries. This is not peaceful protest, this will not be tolerated,” read the post.
Three officers violently attacked by protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. The officers sustained serious injuries.
This is not peaceful protest, this will not be tolerated. pic.twitter.com/cYuDX8G7ku
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) July 15, 2020
The senior cop was among the three officers injured at the bridge this morning, according to a follow-up tweet, but a spokesman for the NYPD later clarified that only the lieutenant in the white shirt was hurt by the bat-wielding assailant and that the other two sustained their wounds while arresting protesters.
The man swinging the bat was not among those arrested, according to the spokesman.
A police spokeswoman later said that cops cuffed 37 protesters, but couldn’t specify what they were charged with.
On Wednesday evening new footage posted on Twitter by journalist Shawn Cohen revealed a more chaotic scene on the bridge’s walkway, with about a dozen cops exchanging blows with protesters, while other officers used bicycles to block off the path.
NEW video shows protesters on Brooklyn Bridge today brawling with cops. NYPD footage just showed cops getting attacked. pic.twitter.com/j9begoedwE
— Shawn Cohen (@spccohen) July 15, 2020
NYPD’s press office did not immediately provide further comment regarding the new video.
The video also appears to show the Department’s top ranking uniformed cop, Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who reportedly suffered a broken finger from the incident.
Wednesday’s march follows violent clashes between Black Lives Matter protesters and pro-cop groups in southern Brooklyn over the weekend.
Before the scuffle, participants of the Jericho March gathered at Cadman Plaza calling for unity and an end to gun violence that has recently swept the city.
The rally’s organizers included the Rehoboth Cathedral Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, whose senior pastor said in a video posted online by Republican Bay Ridge Assemblywoman and Congressional candidate Nicole Malliotakis that the community needs the police to help address the recent spate of shootings.
“We support the Police Department and we need the Police Department,” said Bishop Gerald Seabrooks. “Just last night in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area, there was 13 shootings and we’re saying that we want to bring peace, tranquility, and togetherness to our city.”
— Nicole Malliotakis (@NMalliotakis) July 15, 2020
Dozens of people have been shot across the city in recent weeks, including one-year-old Davell Gardner, who was fatally struck by a spray of bullets during a family barbecue in Bedford-Stuvyesant on July 12. Early Wednesday morning, one person was killed and another five were wounded during a mass shooting in Crown Heights.
The religious marchers were joined by a large contingent of pro-police groups waving Thin Blue Line flags and “Blue Lives Matter” signs.
Among the groups in attendance were the New York State Fraternal Order of Police and the New York Police Department’s sergeants union, whose president Ed Mullins also made an unmasked appearance in the video posted by Malliotakis, along with former Marine Park state Senator Marty Golden and Republican candidate for that seat Vito Bruno.
Once police removed the protesters, the march continued across the bridge.
One of the event’s organizers said he was surprised by the large police group presence at the march, but said that he didn’t take issue with the their participation if they joined for religious reasons or to call for unity.
“I was surprised by the large police marching crowd also. But if it’s about God and Unity, who am I to complain,” said Tramell Thompson, a subway conductor and host of the labor-focused online show Progressive Action. “The origin of this march is about Jesus, God and Unity … Clergymen are leading this march, not police.”
Thompson also criticized the Police Department for arresting peaceful protesters, and said that the march would have welcomed the others to join.
“It was wrong, people should be allowed to peacefully protest. We weren’t here for people to get arrested or detained,” he said. “We would of [sic] loved for them to march with us. This was a march about God and unity.”
Update (July 17, 5:15 pm): This article has been updated to include the number of arrests.
Update (July 17, 7 pm): This article has been updated to include new footage of the arrests on the Brooklyn Bridge.