NYPD responded to protests with 'frenzy of organized violence,' lawsuit says

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NEW YORK — New York Police Department officers “sadistically” beat peaceful marchers protesting police brutality and the death of George Floyd during a city-approved “frenzy of organized violence” that left multiple people seriously injured, says a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

Four Black Lives Matter protesters say in Brooklyn Federal Court that NYPD top brass and Mayor Bill de Blasio deliberately employed violent tactics against peaceful protest marchers, and that cops indiscriminately charged at them with batons.

Police defended their tactics “on the basis that ‘the streets were out of control’ and order needed to be restored,” says the suit. “But a generalized desire for ‘control’ cannot justify sadistically beating specific individuals who are not themselves out of control.”

“The idea that ‘control’ and ‘order’ permit indiscriminate police violence against peaceful citizens is the logic of a totalitarian dictatorship, not of a constitutional democracy that guarantees the rights to speech and assembly.”

The suit, which names the mayor, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea and Chief of Department Terrence Monahan as defendants, charges two unnamed officers with violently beating the plaintiffs at Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn on June 3.

“For exercising his First Amendment rights, Luke Hanna had his head split open by an NYPD police baton, requiring ten staples to his scalp. Tim Young had his thumb and his wrist injured by the NYPD. Edo Gelbard had his tooth chipped after being struck in the face with a baton by the NYPD. Mike Sternfeld was slammed to the pavement by the NYPD,” the suit states.

“No threat, let alone an imminent one, existed. The police were not in danger. The police were the danger.”

Attorney David Lebowitz said his clients make up a fraction of New Yorkers who took to the streets in peaceful protest and as a result came home beaten and bloodied after interacting with NYPD officers.

“The violence that the police displayed toward protesters, not just at Cadman Plaza but across the city, was really not a matter of a few bad apples abusing their authority,” he told the Daily News.

“Our case shows that these very brutal tactics were actually approved and condoned at the highest levels of the NYPD and city government.”

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