New York State Senator speaks out after being pepper-sprayed, handcuffed and arrested at a protest, as police brutality surged on the 10th night of demonstrations.
New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie protested this week at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. His experience, which he shared with me, is vitally important to listen to as we have witnessed 10 nights of protest across the country and as Thursday night saw a wave of violence by police in cities and localities all over America — much of it caught on camera.
The state senator, who represents a district in central Brooklyn among the hardest hit by coronavirus, knew many of the police captains, connected with them at the start of the protest, and wore a bright-colored shirt with his name on.
None of that protected him, however, as an African-American man, from being brutally treated at a peaceful protest — where there was no provocation by protesters — by police who pepper-sprayed him and then handcuffed him as his eyes burned, rendering him unable to do anything about it.
“One of the worst pains in my life,” he told me on my SiriusXM show this week. “I had every credential you would want someone to have. My degrees didn’t save me. My upbringing didn’t save me. My title as an elected official representing 300,000 people didn’t save. So imagine those of us who don’t have any of those things. It would be just as bad — and it is just as bad.”
We discussed what happened, and talked about the police reforms he and other Democrats are trying to get passed in Albany. (Listen to the full interview above; there’s a short clip below as well).
It’s astonishing and frightening that the police across the country have brutalized and beaten protestors into the 10th night of protests, even as they know they are on camera.
In Buffalo, New York, a 75-year-old man simply asking the police a question was thrown to the ground by police, who then walked right by while he lay on the floor bleeding. (The two police offers have been suspended, following outrage that had the mayor speak out for justice.) In Tacoma, Washington, the mayor has called for officers to be fired after a black man was killed while retrained and pleading, like George Floyd, “I can’t breathe!” Indianapolis police are being investigated for horrifically striking a woman with batons.
In Los Angeles, police viciously attacked peaceful protestors with batons, while in New York protestors were thrown to the crowd and arrested.
This is the police state Donald Trump has promoted and emboldened — but it was here long before him.
That police feel empowered to engage in these acts of brutality even after the officers who killed George Floyd were arrested, and even while caught on camera, underscores how brazen many of them are, and how confident they are in engaging in brutality.
It also shows why the protests are so important and why the pressure has to continue until lawmakers create true reform that reins in violent, racist cops.