NY cops turned loose on political rallies, people ‘gathering’

By Brian Williams
May 18, 2020

NEW YORK — Implementing orders from Mayor Bill de Blasio that demonstrations not take place now, dozens of cops moved to break up a gathering of about 12 people May 3 protesting the partnership between Mount Sinai hospital, the city and the anti-gay evangelical group Samaritan’s Purse.

The small rally and press conference called by Reclaim Pride Coalition was held outside the hospital’s Beth Israel Medical Center in Lower Manhattan.

“About 50 police officers arrived at First Avenue and East 16th Street with lights and sirens to discourage the protestors from massing across from the hospital,” am New York reported on its front page. “Most of the protestors, however, were scattered with more than 20 feet of distance.” The cops also threatened journalists covering the event.

Officers issued citations to some people attending the event, claiming they were in violation of state and city bans on organized gatherings put in place during the “coronavirus crisis.” Protester Ann Northrop was summoned for standing in the First Avenue service lane, away from Reclaim Pride Coalition’s podium. “What happened to free speech in this country?” she said to the media.

Samaritan’s Purse, based in Boone, North Carolina, was founded by fundamentalist preacher Franklin Graham, a son of the late Rev. Billy Graham. In a deal with the Mount Sinai Health System, approved by the city, the organization coordinated a 68-bed field hospital set up in Central Park to deal with COVID-19 cases from the hospital. With just eight patients left in their tents, the group plans to wrap up its operations soon.

Since its appearance in New York in March, the group has attracted quite a bit of controversy. It urges its volunteers to sign a “Statement of Faith” that denounces gay marriage and says anyone who doesn’t practice their version of Christianity — and that means Jews, Muslims and more — will be consigned “to everlasting punishment in hell.” The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine backed out of an agreement to allow the group to operate an overflow facility inside the church.

But Mayor de Blasio and the New York Police Department are on their own holy warpath, saying they’re going to use naked police power to enforce “social distancing,” and have declared the right to protest — whether against attacks on gay rights or any other political issue — as illegal.

“We’re not doing rallies at this point,” the mayor said at a May 1 news conference. He emphasized that the cops will enforce this. Such actions “spread the disease and help to kill people. It’s unacceptable.”

NYPD bosses say they are organizing to unleash an army of 1,000 cops this weekend determined to keep people apart at parks, beaches and playgrounds.

They proved what they mean May 3 when plainclothes cops moved to grab a couple they had ordered to step apart and then went after bystander Donni Wright. Another bystander caught the whole thing on video.

The cop pulls out his Taser, calling Wright a “n—-r” and telling him to “move the f–k back right now.” Then he attacks Wright, punching him repeatedly in the head and torso and pinning the guy down by putting his knee on Wright’s head. Wright, who works for the New York City Housing Authority, offered no resistance and was arrested.

After the video got out, there was an outcry and the attack is now under review. But it’s clear the cops have been unleashed. “There’s going to be a crackdown everywhere if we see gatherings,” de Blasio told the media.