|NOV 12, 2015 12:04 PM|
BY JEN CHUNG
|Protesters inside 125 Broad Street's lobby (Allison Steinberg / Gothamist)|
A group of activists protesting NYC's biggest police union chained themselves together and barricaded the lobby of the union's office building in lower Manhattan this morning. "We have nothing to lose but our chains. This is our black future," they chanted as police officers from the Emergency Services Unit used blow torches to cut them out.
The activists, from the Black Youth Project 100, were calling for the defunding of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association, which represents two thirds of city's police officers. They targeted 125 Broad Street, because the PBA's headquarters are there: "We are here today because your neighbor, the PBA, funds, supports, and pays killer cops who murder black people."
Protesters came into the building at around 9 a.m. The Daily News reports, "Ten protesters tried to get inside to the Patrolmen Benevolent Association's offices but were blocked at the lobby turnstiles by security, witnesses said."
Protesters also gathered in the plaza outside the building until police moved them to the sidewalk.
Just after 10 a.m., PBA president Pat Lynch appeared on the scene.
At one point, a group of protesters returned to the plaza, only to be forced back once more by police. Later, officers placed metal barriers around the plaza.
The activists had three demands: Dissolve the PBA; fire police officer Wayne Isaacs, who fatally shot Delrawn Small in an apparent Brooklyn road rage incident on July 4th; and invest in alternatives to policing such as better mental healthcare, affordable housing, and better public education.
Lynch, a vocal foe of the de Blasio administration, issued a statement in response:
"Today's protest was a display of misdirected and misinformed anger that should have been pointed at City Hall, not the police officers who were on hand to protect the demonstrators' First Amendment rights. We always have protected that right, and we always will, provided it is done peacefully and legally. Chaining yourself inside private property and refusing to disperse when ordered is not legal. The climate police officers face is growing more dangerous by the day. Police officers are being shot at; that's not 'dialogue,' it's violence. We need our elected leaders to step up and say unequivocally that violent and illegal behavior will not be tolerated, and to support police officers, period."
Brittany Williams, one of the activists, told us, "The accountability is on the mayor and the City Council," but today, "We're here to bring awareness to the [PBA's] actions...Police Officer Isaacs killed a brother in Brooklyn. He will no longer be with his family. The PBA supported Daniel Pantaleo [the cop] who killed Eric Garner...how is that keeping us safe?
"Our lives matter and we do not feel safe," she added.
Ten protesters were arrested; the charges pending. There are other actions at police unions across the country today.
Additional reporting by Allison Steinberg
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