New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city Monday after saying they were pepper sprayed and beaten with bicycles at a protest.
The two lawmakers attended a protest at the Barclays Center on May 29, 2020, with Myrie wearing an outfit that made him identifiable as a senator. The suit claims that before 8 p.m., officers announced the shut down of the protest before slamming bicycles into protesters without warning. Richardson was hit in the abdomen and pelvis, while Myrie was hit in the back and legs. The suit then claims that when asked why they were hitting them, officers “continued to ram him with the bicycles,” before officers pepper sprayed them.
Myrie was then reportedly handcuffed him with zip ties before an officer recognized him. As for the suit, Richardson says that the lawmakers “are representing the voices of many people whose voices have been lost, who don’t have this privilege and this platform, who weren’t pulled off to the side like Senator Myrie,” Richardson told the New York Times.
The suit is asking a judge to declare the NYPD’s tactics on that May day—like allegedly using bikes against protesters and cornering them—to be unlawful.
“The NYPD has a longstanding track record of successfully protecting the right of the public to protest while ensuring public safety, and is committed to strengthening those efforts,” Nick Paolucci, a spokesman for the city Law Department, said Monday in response to the lawsuit. “We will review these claims.”