NEW YORK -- A crowd of hundreds gathered outside the criminal court in lower Manhattan on Friday evening to protest the acquittal of New York City police officers Kenneth Moreno and Franklin Mata.
The protest was organized by a coalition of women's rights groups, including Permanent Wave and Feministing. The purpose of the demonstration, as stated on the Facebook page for the event, was to urge the New York Police Department to implement comprehensive sexual assault training for new officers, along with other preventative measures that will ensure similar incidents do not happen in the future.
The organizers are giving Police Commissioner Ray Kelly one week to respond to their demands.
"The NYPD are supposed to be stewards of safety, stewards of the law," Michelle Crentsil, a union leader who helped plan the protest, told HuffPost. "It's not just about this case, it's about the entire idea of rape and sexual assault not being taken seriously."
Lori Adelman, of the women's rights group Permanent Wave, said she posted the event on Facebook the day before. Within 24 hours, the page had over 1,500 attendees.
"New Yorkers deserve to feel safe, and this verdict clearly showed that we have no reason to feel safe in this city," Adelman said at the protest.
The officers were acquitted of the rape charges on Thursday, but were convicted of three counts of "official misconduct." They were fired from the force the same day.
Warning: video contains graphic language.
Video by HuffPost's Hunter Stuart
Moreno, 43 years old, and Mata, 29, were called to help a drunken woman climb out of a taxi in 2008. The woman testified that she awoke to being raped by Moreno. Officer Mata was said to have stood guard during the incident.
Moreno was recorded assuring the woman that she "didn't have to worry about getting any diseases" because he "used a condom," but Moreno later claimed that he said that to get her to leave him alone.
Mata and Moreno will be sentenced by the State Supreme Court on June 28. They each face up to two years behind bars due to the official misconduct convictions. Had they been found guilty of rape, the pair could have been in jail for up to 25 years.
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