Activists Claim Anti-LGBT Police Violence, Demand Response

Published: June 12, 2013

Just a few weeks after city council Speaker Christine Quinn announced that the New York City Police Department would step up police presence following the alleged hate-crime slaying of a gay man in Greenwich Village, activists convened in front of NYPD headquarters to protest what they consider growing police violence against the LGBT community.

Police misconduct incidents "increased significantly" from eight in 2011 to 78 in 2012, Shelby Chestnut of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group, told the crowd on Tuesday.

These statistics, make the city’s decision to increase police presence in LGBT friendly neighborhoods "troubling," Chestnut said, and the strategy "should be examined."

Three men at the press conference claimed they were assaulted, verbally abused and unjustly arrested by police officers in Brooklyn last week. Ben Collins, 24, of Brooklyn, told the crowd that when he was walking home from a bar around 4 a.m. June 3 with two friends, a police officer falsely accused one of his friends, Josh Williams, of urinating in public. Collins said that a police officer threw Williams to the ground and pepper sprayed him, and another officer called the men "fucking faggots." A video that AVP and Cynthia Conti-Cook, the lawyer representing the three men, say captures part of the incident, filmed by Collins’ friend Antonio Maenza, can be viewed here.

"Last weekend, my clients learned what residents in the 79th Precinct — and all over NYC — already knew. That they are just as likely to experience violence, threats and verbal abuse from the police as anyone else on the street," said Conti-Cook.

Conti-Cook is calling for the charges against Josh Williams — now accused of public urination, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct — to be dropped, and for charges to be brought against the officers involved.
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