MANHATTAN CRIMINAL COURT — About two-dozen supporters crammed into a Manhattan courtroom Friday to protest the “unjust treatment” of an award-winning Bronx-based hip-hop artist Anthony Martinez, who claims officers beat him during his arrest on the morning of the police raid of Zuccotti Park in November.
Martinez, 25, who performs as Intikana, addressed his supporters outside the courthouse after the hearing, where prosecutors sought to deny a motion to dismiss the charges of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
He said his arrest and alleged beating by the police would “forever affect” him, but added that he was not alone in claiming mistreatment at the hands of the police.
“Police brutality [is] happening in our streets — there’s a militarization happening,” Martinez said. “It’s a lot bigger than me, it’s a lot bigger than us.”
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who was also arrested on Nov. 15 near the Occupy Wall Street encampment, appeared in court Friday shortly before Martinez. After his hearing, Rodriguez recalled seeing Martinez on the night of their arrest.
“We were together in the cell, and he was bleeding bad,” said Rodriguez, who represents northern Manhattan. “He was one of the people beaten the worst on November 15.”
Martinez said that on the early morning of November 15, shortly after he read online reports that police had begun to clear protestors from Zuccotti Park, he rushed from the Bronx to lower Manhattan to film the scene. He said he made it as far as Fulton Street and Broadway, three blocks north of the park, when he was stopped by police.
Prosecutors said that as Martinez and about 50 other people stood at that street corner, they effectively blocked foot traffic on the sidewalk, according to the criminal complaint. When a police inspector issued Martinez five separate orders to move, Martinez did not comply, the complaint said. Then, as officers tried to arrest Martinez at 4:20 a.m., he flailed his arms and legs and refused to put his hands behind his back, the complaint noted.
However, Martinez's attorney, Martin Stolar, offered a different account of the events. He said that police ordered Martinez to move from the street and onto the sidewalk. As Martinez moved toward the sidewalk, Stolar explained, he continued to record and question the officers.
“He’s videoing them. He’s saying, ‘Why are you hitting people? Why are you pushing people?’ He’s a player," Stolar said, “but he’s not doing anything other than opening his mouth."
Then, just as the 5-foot-2 Martinez reached the curb, four or five officers charged at him, Stolar claimed.
“I was filming, and an officer grabbed me,” Martinez said. “They threw me to the ground, and that’s when they beat me. They bashed my face with a baton.”
Martinez said he suffered a concussion, fractured wrist, bruises and injuries to his neck and body. Stolar added that he has medical records documenting the injuries, but declined to make them public at this stage of the case.
The police did not immediately reply to a request for comment about the incident.
At the hearing Friday, prosecutors filed a motion to consolidate Martinez’s case with that of other defendants arrested on November 15. Manhattan Criminal Court Judge Neil Ross said he will decide on this and other motions in the case on March 9.
As Intikana, Martinez is a rapper, spoken word poet, actor, filmmaker and photographer who has performed in several countries and facilitated workshops at colleges, community centers and prisons.
He performed in a “one man hip hop musical” that he wrote, called “Penumbra,” in 2009, and won a Bronx Council of the Arts performing arts award in 2010.
Caridad De La Luz, a poet and performer from the Bronx who has worked with Martinez, said that the large turnout at the hearing was meant to send a message to the city.
“It’s giving everyone the knowledge that this person is important in our community,” De La Luz said after the hearing. “By hurting him, it hurts us.”