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City Councilwoman Gale Brewer Says NYPD Harassed Her at Pride Parade

By Jill Colvin | October 5, 2011 1:29pm
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer says that she was mistreated by police at the Gay Pride Parade
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer says that she was mistreated by police at the Gay Pride Parade
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

MANHATTAN — Months before Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams and an aide to the public advocate were handcuffed and detained at the West Indian Day Parade, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said she, too, had been mistreated by police at another parade.

In a letter sent to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Tuesday, the Upper West Side Councilwoman complained that “belligerent and overactive” officers kept her locked behind barricades for an hour and a half at the June 26 Gay Pride Parade.

Brewer said she was trying to meet up with her council colleagues to march in the parade when she was blocked by a cop, who refused to let her pass despite her official council ID.

“He not only refused, but he immediately adopted a belligerent attitude, hooking his thumbs on his belt, puffing up his chest, and acting as though he felt he was under threat,” she wrote in the letter was first reported by Capital New York.

Brewer said that when an African American woman approached the same cop with a similar request, “he grabbed her and pushed her backward. None of this was called for,” she said.

Brewer, who is white, said she was also given attitude by an “angry and rude” sergeant, who allegedly refused to help her and “clenched his fist and swung his arm upward in a little arc — a universal gesture that needed no translation,” she said.

Brewer said the incident, combined with accusations of rough treatment at the West Indian Day Parade and video footage showing police pepper spraying protesters during an Occupy Wall Street march, which is now under investigation, were “red flags” that “suggest that an attitude of unwarranted belligerence has emerged among officers assigned to work with crowds.”

She warned the behavior would undermine the respect that residents have for police and called for a new policy for handling public officials at events like parades.

“The issue in all these instances is not whether there are rules," she wrote. "It is the abuse of discretion, a pattern of needless and angry over-reaction, an attitude of contempt and insult toward both elected officials and private citizens, and an apparent license among the rank and file of the NYPD to act inappropriately and insultingly whenever they choose."

The NYPD did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the events or Brewer’s criticisms.

The revelation comes a month after Public Advocate Bill de Blasio's aide Kirsten J.Foy and Williams were stopped by police while trying to make their way to a post-parade event at the Brooklyn Museum.

The NYPD said that before their identities were established "a crowd formed and an unknown individual punched a police captain on the scene,” leading to the detainments.

Sources later told DNAinfo that Williams showed up at the frozen zone with an entourage of about 20 people and tried to blow through barricades without ever showing his ID.

Foy and Williams have disputed police accounts and have accused NYPD officers of targeting them because of they are black.