The NYPD arrested 143 people Wednesday night when an estimated 1,000-plus protesters took to the streets of Manhattan to condemn the killing of Freddie Gray by Baltimore police.
Both Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and Chief of Department James O’Neill said they believed officers were “extremely flexible” when dealing with protesters. O’Neill said at a press conference Thursday he didn’t think officers were more aggressive than usual, as alleged by protesters, and that the Baltimore unrest didn’t factor into the NYPD’s strategy.
Two people were arrested on felony assault on a police officer. Of the 143 arrests, 25 were for misdemeanor charges such as resisting arrest, and many of the offenses were for obstructing traffic.
Protesters tried to gain access to the West Side Highway and temporarily blocked the Holland Tunnel, and stopped pockets of traffic across the city.
O’Neill said 400 cops from the outer boroughs were brought in to assist with the rally.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said fewer protesters were arrested Wednesday than during a December protest that followed a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in Eric Garner’s death.
The city’s response to the “peaceful protest” was condemned by activist groups such as Communities United for Police Reform, which said in a statement “Our communities have been brutalized and killed by police despite following the law for decades, and last night New Yorkers were once again brutalized by the NYPD for simply protesting. There has been no systemic change within the police department that can ensure safety for all New Yorkers and end the discriminatory, abusive policing of our communities.”
More protests are planned for Friday, police said.