In the wake of the non-indictments in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown police shooting death cases, thousands of people marched across the streets of New York City in what is becoming a growing, national movement of street protests.
Swept up amongst the hundreds of people arrested by the NYPD for being on the street were at least two photographers.
On December 3, Andrew Padilla was recording the police make violent arrests when he was violently arrested himself.
“As I was leaving the Eric Garner protests, I witnessed a police captain grab a man, with his hands up, slam him to the hood of a car and violently arrest him,” Padilla stated. “Being from East Harlem, a journalist, and CopWatcher, I turned on my camera and began recording the police action. Within seconds, the captain saw my camera, threw me to the the hood of a car, and violently arrested me.”
In Padilla’s recording, posted below, you can hear him ask the question that many photographers have asked before as they are being arrested for committing no crime.
“Whoa whoa whoa, what am I under arrest for?”
“Blocking the street.”
As dozens of bystanders around Padilla were free to cross the street, Padilla was violently arrested for recording the police. Only after arresting Padilla did the NYPD order the protestors to move out of the street or face arrest.
Padilla then tweeted his own police-wagon photography.
A week earlier, photographer Rob Shook experienced similar treatment. As Shook photographed the thousands of people protesting the Ferguson grand jury decision, he was grabbed and arrested along with hundreds of other protestors.
“Intersections were cleared with indiscriminate firing of pepper spray,” Shook wrote. “Public spaces were blocked by baton-wielding cops. Whenever the crowd splintered in fear, despotic white-shirts (lieutenants) ordered New York’s finest to pick off stragglers. In one of these moments of disorder and confusion, while I watched protesters try to flee without disintegrating the rally, I was grabbed from behind. There were about 200 arrests that night, predominately in the Times Square area.”
As the man who recorded Eric Garner’s death, Ramsay Orta, faces jail time from what he says is a retaliatory arrest while Garner’s killer goes free, new evidence has come to light revealing that Garner’s death may have come as retaliation by the NYPD.
“It’s due to the fact that they stole money from [Eric] and refused to give him his money, and he filed charges against them,” said Benjamin Carr, Eric Garner’s stepfather.
PINAC researchers have been in touch with the NYPD to determine if there are any documents to support this allegation, but the NYPD is doing it’s routine stonewalling (but we haven’t given up).
On Saturday, more than 25,000 people marched through New York, and in similar protests that took place around the country, with police arresting marchers in Houston, Boston, and countless other cities. As New York and the nation prepare for the next wave of protests, let’s remember that the people must be united to stand a chance at making change.
“Our parent’s Civil Rights Movement did not age gracefully. Their movement did not reach the mountaintop…” wrote Andrew Padilla after being arrested. “It is up to all of us, every color and creed, to ensure this movement does not meet a similar fate.”