A city councilmember and a city aide who were detained by the NYPD during Monday's West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn say the incident never would have happened if they were white.
Coucilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn), and Kirsten John Foy, a top aide to city public advocate Bill de Blasio, told reporters at a press conference Tuesday morning that they were walking on a blocked-off sidewalk Monday afternoon when uniformed cops confronted them, The New York Times reports.
Williams and Foy claim to have previously been given permission to walk on the sidewalk by another, higher-ranking police officer while on their way to a post-parade event at the Brooklyn Museum.
The two city officials, both of whom are black, say they tried to show their city IDs to officers but their efforts were ignored.
An argument ensued until cops eventually threw Williams and Foy to the ground and handcuffed them (see video below). After 30 minutes, and once their identities were confirmed, the two men were released.
At the press conference Tuesday morning outside City Hall and joined by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn along with other officials, Williams said his and Foy's arrests as a form of racial profiling, which he says has been exacerbated by the department’s stop-question-and frisk policies that unfairly target blacks and latinos.
According to The New York Post, Williams said he thinks the incident happened because he is a “35-year-old black man with dreadlocks.”
A federal judge recently OK'd a lawsuit accusing the NYPD of discriminating against black and latino men with its stop-and-frisk policies aimed at reducing crime.
Williams also denied claims from NYPD spokesman Paul Browne that someone punched a police officer during the incident.
"Telling a bald-faced lie, particularly to the people that they're lying about disturbs me," Williams said. "How can we take seriously what the police will say in the future if they will lie to us about this. I defy the police to find one shred of evidence of any police officer punched in that incident."
U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn) took Williams' criticism further, going so far as to compare civil rights in New York to South African Apartheid.
"Each and every day, we're hearing more and more about the violation of civil liberties in this town," she said, according to The New York Daily News. "We are quickly moving to an apartheid situation here in the city of New York where we don't recognize the civil liberties and the civil rights of all New Yorkers."
Both Mayor Michael Bloomberg and police commissioner Ray Kelly have formally apologized to Williams and Foy, and Kelly says he's launched an investigations into the arrests.