Two black New York officials were arrested and pepper sprayed during a George Floyd protest Friday, according to State Sen. Zellnor Myrie.
Myrie and New York Assemblywoman Diana Richardson were attending protests at Barclays Center, an indoor arena in Brooklyn New York, when the incident occurred, according to Myrie’s Instagram post.
Myrie told the Daily Caller that he joined the Friday protests to “show solidarity” and as “someone who could act as a liaison between law enforcement and those protesting.” He said that he hoped that by attending, he and the Assemblywoman could help to de-escalate the situation if it got out of hand and keep things peaceful.
Protests began when a video surfaced of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a police officer who kneeled on his neck until he died. The week-long demonstrations escalated into violent riots in many places.
The senator said that he was trying to de-escalate and talk to other protesters when the police became aggressive and started pushing, shoving, and hitting him with a bicycle before pepper spraying him and putting him in handcuffs.
“I did everything the right way; I had not done anything disobedient,” he told the Daily Caller. “I wore a neon shirt with my name emblazoned on the back and I identified myself to law enforcement when I arrived, precisely to avoid a situation like what we saw. But even that wasn’t good enough.”
He said in his statement that he was complying with police orders and talking to fellow protesters when he was detained. (RELATED: Bill De Blasio’s Daughter Arrested During New York City George Floyd Protests)
After a few minutes, the officers determined who he was and released him.
“The unfortunate reality is that it was an indiscriminate pushing, spraying of pepper spray, and handcuffing, and had I not had the luxury of my title, I would have been in the system and processed much like many of the other protesters that night,” Myrie added.
Assemblywoman Diana Richardson told the Daily Caller that she’s in a “lot of pain” from the experience, but is “trying to be constructive with that pain.”
“I have to do what I can do about this situation,” she said. “At this point, there will be unrest in the street until action is taken.”
“There is a reason that people have taken to the streets. There is a reason that we are passionate. It is because we are against police brutality, something our communities have suffered not for decades, but centuries,” Myrie told the Daily Caller.
Myrie and Richardson said that going forward, they are working on legislation to help increase police accountability and transparency.
Both officials are working to repeal New York Civil Rights Law 50-a, which says that all personnel records that are “used to evaluate performance toward continued employment or promotion” of a police officer or firefighter are confidential, meaning disciplinary records are shielded from the public.
“That’s legislation that allows police misconduct to be hidden from the public,” Richardson told the Daily Caller.
50-a means that many would never know the history of an officer’s interaction with the community, she added. “That’s not fair … people in communities know the history of that officer. We know who’s beating up who.”
The Assemblywoman described the legislative platform that she and other public officials have created as “a host of bills that will directly create transparency around the police department, and accountability, and also put penalty to the negative behaviors that are currently, in the present day, going unchecked.”
Richardson said that she’s planning to have 10 press conferences Thursday with members of the Black-Latino Caucus, and that there will be a press conference in every county where the elected official is a person of color. Each one will happen simultaneously, at 3:00 PM, to rally support for their police reform agenda.
Expanding the use of law enforcement body cameras, making sure officers can be penalized for using chokeholds or any method of strangulation, and local, independent oversight of the police department are a few of the policy points that Richarson supports.
Myrie also told the Caller that “unlike every other city agency disciplinary hearing that is held before an administrative judge outside that agency, police disciplinary hearings go before a judge on NYPD payroll.”
“This is a conflict of interest that prevents real accountability, and I have a bill to change that,” he added. “Passing laws is only part of the solution, but it is part of what I was elected to do and will give everything I have to see it through.”
The NYPD did not respond to a request for comment.