Mayor de Blasio launches new attack against NYPD for ‘kettling’ protesters, but says not all cops are bad

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NEW YORK CITY, NY – During his weekly call-in on Friday, November 6, with WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio suggested that listeners shouldn’t jump to conclusions about New York Police officer behavior based simply on what they observe, in person or on video.

De Blasio told Lehrer:

“I’ve been in enough of these after action discussions to know that what you see in front of your eyes is not always the whole story, including what someone did in the course of an evening or if they have weapons on their person and they believe they’re about to use them.”

Indeed, during post-election demonstrations the nights of November 4 and 5, NYPD reported that multiple weapons and fireworks were deployed by protestors.

On November 4, 57 protesters were arrested for various crimes, including assaulting police officers and possession of weapons.

On November 5, 19 arrests were made, including that of one individual who attempted to choke a police officer with a chain.

During those protest events, participants utilized organized strategies to make the NYPD look bad on camera.

NYPD officials reported at a press conference that groups:

“…outlined whose job it was to throw objects at police, whose job it was to record the police response on camera, whose job it was to set fires, whose job it was to break windows.”

De Blasio addressed listener questions on apparent video “evidence” of forceful police tactics and, according to NBC New York, “pushed back on the idea that videos circling social media reflect an overwhelming police presence in response to largely peaceful groups.”

The mayor told listeners:

“I don’t think the videos are always a clear piece of evidence as these are sometimes portrayed as.”

He continued:

“When we are debating over videos or quote-unquote evidence of what happened, I really don’t think we’re getting a clear enough picture.

“The videos are often inconclusive.”

Deputy NYPD Commissioner John Miller further explained to the press Friday how video is being used to paint a picture of police as violent.

He told NBC:

“When somebody throws a rock, throws a bottle, defies a lawful order, and police move in to arrest that person — that person fights the arrest.

“At that point, a number of people emerge and try to pull the person that is the subject of the arrest back into the crowd and end up physically struggling with police.”

Miller added:

“It’s being exploited by creating videos that are then labeled about police attacking peaceful protesters.”

In addition, de Blasio responded on Lehrer’s radio program to questions on the on the issue of “kettling,” or the surrounding of a group of protestors by police.

Listeners and media accused the NYPD of utilizing this crowd control tactic, with human rights groups registering complaints on the practice, and with AMNY news source claiming that police used the method Wednesday for its arrests of at least 25 people.

De Blasio told Lehrer he found the tactic “not an acceptable practice,” and said that he told NYPD officials during a “long talk” on Thursday that they should not implement it.  He denied knowing whether NYPD actually used kettling at the post-election protests.

NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes addressed the kettling issue head-on at a press conference, when she said it was not used during the post-election protests, nor at all.

She stated:

“Kettling is not used by this department.”

Holmes added:

“It is not in any of our patrol guidelines and procedures nor is it part of any of our training.”

Also on Lehrer’s radio program, De Blasio shared come common sense advice when he suggested to listeners that they disassociate themselves from violent agitators. 

He told the audience:

“If you see folks among you doing violence or planning violence that have got chains or hammers or anything in their bag, you need to separate from them and you need to point out what they’re doing because that’s not what most protesters are about.”

De Blasio added that there will be “consequences” for those who do choose to commit acts of violence.

He told listeners:

“The vast majority of people who protest protest peacefully, we know that.”

He added:

“Very few do acts of violence, but those who do violence, will really have to understand, there’s going to be real consequences for them.”

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In case you happened to miss it, here is more on the post-election “peaceful” protests in NYC:

NEW YORK CITY, NY – A violent night on the streets of New York City came to a head when police say a subset of protesters attacked officers, which ended in more than 50 arrests on Wednesday, November 4th. 

In a Facebook video streamed Thursday, New York Police Department Commissioner Dermot Shea described hours of chaos, after some protesters showed up armed with flammable materials, hammers and tasers. 

The department Twitter account posted some of the arrestees’ mugshots, saying: 

“Last night, these individuals were arrested at protests in Manhattan for various crimes, including assaulting police officers & weapons possession. If you have any info related to these individuals, or others regarding violence at protests, please call @NYPDTips at 800-577-TIPS.” 

The city’s top cop said the smaller group had no ties to a peaceful protest that had occurred earlier in the day.  

Commissioner Shea said rioters used that gathering as a cover to come to the area, before separating themselves to start fighting with the officers who were in charge of protecting and serving the area.

He said: 

“I would say the intent was evident. It’s to sow chaos. Who brings a knife and a hammer and flammable liquids to a peaceful protest?” 

He went on to say that officers arrested 57 people in total, including a woman who was captured on camera calling an officer a “fascist” before spitting in his face. 

New York Post journalist Elizabeth Meryl Rosner tweeted video of the incident, saying: 

“A young woman was arrested after she spat in an officer’s face after screaming, ‘F–k you, fascist,’ tonight in the West Village.”  

NYPD officers say of those arrested, 32 were given criminal court summonses. Most of the others were arrested for disorderly conduct. 

The whole scramble shows the “evolution” of protester tactics, according to NYPD Deputy Commissioner John Miller. 

He said not only did the rioters come armed, but had planned who among them would set fires, throw things at cops, and record video that could later be used as propaganda. 

The NYPD News Twitter account shared pictures of some of the weapons seized during the protest.

The post said: 

“These weapons, confiscated at protests tonight, put others at risk. Bringing weapons to peaceful protests cannot and will not be tolerated. We are currently working to de-escalate the situation. Anyone caught with a weapon will be arrested.” 

The photos show knives, what appears to be a taser, and fireworks or explosives. 

On top of the planned attacks, Miller said they also developed a plan for provoking officers and then filming only whatever followed so that it would appear on camera that the officers reacted for no reason.

He said: 

“A number of people emerge and try to pull the person that is the subject of the arrest back into the crowd and end up physically struggling with police.” 

Miller said the plan was to then post video online that makes it look like cops are attacking protesters. 

In a series of tweets that followed Thursday’s news conference, NYPD News posted: 

“We support everyone’s right to self-expression, but setting fires puts others at risk and will not be tolerated. We are working to de-escalate the situation near Morton Street in the West Village to prevent further damage from occurring.” 

Another tweet reads: 

“We appreciate and value the importance of freedom of speech. Our top priority is and always will be safety. We have arrested more than 20 individuals who attempted to hijack a peaceful protest by lighting fires, throwing garbage and eggs in Manhattan.” 

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