A group of New York Police Department (NYPD) officers charged at protesters, diners and pedestrians in Manhattan's West Village on Saturday night. More than a dozen arrests were made following that, raising questions on the aggressive behavior meted out to scores of people. The protesters were reportedly walking peacefully toward the police precinct but officers suddenly charged at them, taking even those on the sidewalks by surprise.
A video of the incident has since gone viral. The arrested were later hit with several charges including disorderly conduct. The incident took place just an hour after a police raised a similar peaceful protest in Washington Square Park.
NYPD officers rushed to Manhattan's West Village area around 9 pm on Saturday, an hour after raiding a peaceful art protest in Washington Square Park. The viral video shows NYPD officers, some in riot gear, charging at protesters and diners and arresting them. The protesters had been gathered on the sidewalk and a pedestrian island on Hudson Street near 10th Street.
An automated police announcement warning the protesters against restricting pedestrian or vehicular traffic can be heard. Suddenly, officers start charging at them. Facing them across the street is a large group of bike cops, according to the video of the incident. "What are you doing!?" one person shouts as the officers knock over a restaurant's stool in pursuit of a protester.
The video also shows some people trying to flee as police pushed them into diners eating an outdoor meal. People who weren't part of the small protest said they ran away from the police.
Who's at Fault?
The protesters at the scene had walked toward the police precinct house in the neighborhood Hudson Street because officers had seized their music equipment after busting up what they said had been a peaceful, art-driven rally in Washington Square Park, complete with a DJ playing music.
Protesters claim that police, without any reason, seized their music equipment although the music wasn't loud. "There was a DJ there but there is always music in Washington Square Park. It wasn't louder than it usually is," said one protester at the scene.
Police on the other hand said in a statement that they "responded to a large disorderly group obstructing vehicular traffic in the vicinity of 10 Street and Hudson Street within the confines of the 6 Precinct." At least 12 people were arrested following the incident. Bystanders were shocked to see the arrests unfold amid a small crowd enjoying outdoor drinks and dinners.
Earlier this month a massive college party raged in Washington Square Park without interruption. Crowds reassembled in the park after the Saturday night clash, but police broke up that gathering, too, just after midnight.