Sunset Park Protests Police Brutality

On Saturday, September 27, protesters marched through Sunset Park to the 72nd Precinct, denouncing several violent incidents that occurred over the course of just a few weeks. Earlier this month onlookers caught police on camera kicking a fruit vendor and then body slamming a pregnant woman. Some residents say they’ve felt tension with the 72nd Precinct for years. Watch the video by Gwynne Hogan above, and read the story from El Diario by Cristina Loboguerrero below:

Over 200 people met at the corner of 45th Street and Second Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to demand the resignation of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and the expulsion of the policemen who wrestled with a pregnant woman in that neighborhood last week.

Demonstrators marched along 15 blocks to the 72nd Precinct police station where the officers work. The woman, Sandra Amézquita, an immigrant from Colombia who is five months pregnant, was violently tackled by the police. The incident was recorded by a bystander on his cell phone (video at El Diario).

“We want Bill Bratton to resign, and we want the officers responsible for the attack on this woman to be laid off. All she wanted to do was protect her son who was stopped and frisked by the cops,” said Dennis Flores, founder of watchdog group El Grito de Sunset Park (The Scream of Sunset Park), who organized the march.

Ronel Lemus, Amézquita’s husband, spearheaded the march. According to the organizers, the victim was unable to attend because of her delicate health.

Lemus thanked the people who joined the march, and said in a broken voice that “I do not wish this on any of the families in our community.”

Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D – NY, 7th district)  was also in attendance. “We demand an immediate response on the part of the police for their actions. We will not tolerate one more act of violence against our community,” said Velázquez.

Council member Carlos Menchaca (D – NYC District 38) joined the demonstration as well and said that it is important to listen to issues of the community and the police force, design solutions, and set them in motion. “We cannot allow these incidents to destroy the faith we have in the work good cops do every day,” said the council member.

The victim’s attorney, Sanford Rubinstein, said that he will meet with Brooklyn’s district attorney on Tuesday to request an investigation parallel to the one started by the NYPD in order to determine the officers’ liability.

“We want them to take care of us, not hurt us,” said Francisco Valdés, a resident of Sunset Park for over 40 years who points out that the 72nd Precinct officers’ belligerence is “escalating dangerously. We must stop this before it gets worse.”

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