CRIME
09/17/2014 03:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Video Showing NYPD Officers Shoving Street Vendors Leads To Suspension

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New York City police were heavy-handed as they arrested vendors at a Brooklyn street festival on Sunday, according to complaints from witnesses and elected officials.

A witness told HuffPost that cops started pushing, shoving and, in one case, kicking after arguing with vendors who hadn't promptly left the crowded Fifth Avenue Street Festival in Brooklyn.

"At six o'clock they promptly shut down the event. At 6:05, they were already under arrest," said Dennis Flores, 31, who witnessed part of the scuffle from across the street. "That's not ample time for people to pack up and clear away."

NY1 reports that one cop got suspended for kicking the vendor during the fracas, which was partly recorded on cellphone.

The NYPD didn't respond to HuffPost's request for information about the arrests, but a source briefed on the altercation said police made five arrests. The source said charges include resisting arrest, obstructing government administration, harassment and assault of a police officer.

If the video gains traction, it could exacerbate the strained relationship between police and Sunset Park's Latino community, according to a letter to NYPD Commissioner William Bratton from Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D) and City Councilman Carlos Menchaca.

"We find the physical aggression that is depicted in witness videos disturbing," they wrote. "We are community of immigrants that has historically felt isolated from the police. We are a community that has feared the use of excessive force by the NYPD. And sadly, the presence of police in our community does not consistently make our residents feel safer."

Internal Affairs will continue investigating, Bratton told NY1.

Flores is part of El Grito De Sunset Park, a group that monitors the on-duty police in the neighborhood, and says police must change their tactics.

"It's a pattern of behavior. How do you shut down an event in that matter," he said. "This has happened for years."

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