Protestors marched through Canarsie on Saturday to demand accountability after a viral video captured police officers tackling 20-year-old Fitzroy Gayle to the ground during an arrest for alleged marijuana possession.
“We have to take a stand when our people are being assaulted by NYPD,” said Peter Jones, chaplain for the 67th Precinct. “We demand justice.”
A video posted to Twitter last Thursday shows a plainclothes officer holding Gayle against a wall before a swarm of police respond to the scene and fireclay tackle him to the ground while he screams for help.
“The world saw that live on videotape,” said Rev. Kevin McCall of the Crisis Action Center in Brownsville. “The brother had his hands up.”
Police claim that Gayle had been smoking marijuana inside 100% Playground on Glenwood Road and had resisted arrest — but his defense attorney contends that his client had not committed any crimes, and will plead not guilty to charges at a March 24 court appearance.
“We will be appearing on March 24, answering the charges and pleading not guilty and requesting the charges to be dismissed in the interest of justice,” said Sanford Rubenstein. “And we are going to convince the district attorney’s office that they should not prosecute.”
During Saturday’s march from the playground to the 69th Police Precinct, which came on the heels of a similar demonstration last Thursday, rally-goers called on the NYPD to fire the officers involved in Gayle’s arrest, and for the Kings County District Attorney to launch a full investigation into the incident.
Reciting chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” protestors marched down a half-mile stretch of Rockaway Parkway from 100% Playground on Glenwood Road to the 69th Precinct on E. 98th Street to demarcate where Gayle was first arrested and where he was held in custody for about 12 hours.
McCall said Gayle was only released from the 69th Precinct after the community leader went to the department himself and demanded Gayle’s release. He was then taken out of custody within the hour.
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea addressed Gayle’s arrest at a press conference last Thursday, where he said some aspects of the video were disturbing and that the department would conduct a full investigation.
“The short answer is I am going to look for an investigation just to make sure I know everything that happened here,” said Shea.