A day after he was at the West Indian-American Day Carnival in Prospect Heights, Councilman Jumaane Williams held a press conference Tuesday at City Hall to tell his side of the story.
Williams, D-Brooklyn, was joined by Kirsten John Foy, a high-ranking legislative aide also detained Monday afternoon after he and Williams tried to enter an area closed to the public near the Brooklyn Museum.
According to Williams, the two men easily passed through two police checkpoints on their way from Grand Army Plaza to the museum on Eastern Parkway.
However, it was at the third checkpoint that the two men were told by rank-and-file police that they could go no further—despite showing city-issued identification, Williams said.
"I saw two 'white-shirts' to my left and I went to go over to them," Williams said, referring to the white uniform worn by high-ranking police officials. "They pushed me back, and I told them, 'Don't push me,' telling them who I was. That again, did nothing."
Foy described a more violent encounter.
The legislative aide to city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio claimed a police officer "grabbed him by the neck" and, when that move failed to knock him off his feet, used a "judo leg sweep" to knock him to the ground.
A video of the incident shows Foy, wearing a casual blue shirt, backing away from a police officer.
"While in retreat, they said that I wasn't moving fast enough. In retreat, they found that I was not complying fast enough," Foy said. "So in retreat, they decided to attack me."
Williams said police commissioner Ray Kelly promised an investigation into the incident.
"As the police department has indicated, they are investigating this incident and will take all appropriate steps once it is concluded," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg's press secretary, Stu Loeser.
Several city and state officials at today's press conference praised the "professionalism" of both Williams and Foy in response to the incident, calling for a thorough investigation as well as substantive changes including an end to the controversial police practice known as "stop-and-frisk."
"There is nothing that indicates that the councilmember or Mr. Foy did anything wrong," said Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who called the police response "unacceptable."
State Sen. Eric Adams, D-Brooklyn, a former police officer at the 88th Precinct in Clinton Hill, chided the NYPD for its tactics in response to over the past holiday weekend.
"The most draconian procedures happen when crime is high," Adams said.
Williams and Foy, who are both African-American, said the incident Monday would not have taken place if they were white.
"If we were elected officials of a different persuasion, we are sure things would have been handled differently," Williams said. "The vast majority of people who disagree with this statement are not black or Latino."
Both men said they weren't looking just for a reprimand of the police officers involved. Rather, they said they would advocate for a change in police policy.
"If it can happen to myself, an elected official, and it can happen to Mr. Foy, who is a high-ranking aide to a citywide elected official, please imagine what can be happening to our black and Latino males every single day," he said.