NEW YORK -- New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov has been charged after openly carrying a firearm at a protest Thursday in Brooklyn.
The City Council is now investigating her actions.
As students gatheredThursday for dueling protests, pro-Palestinians on one side and pro-Israelis on the other, Vernikov made her stance clear.
"I'm here today to support the Jewish students that are in school today," she said.
Hours later, the Republican councilmember from southern Brooklyn was arrested for bringing a handgun to the rally, tucked in her waistband.
"I felt real unsafe because I didn't know what she was going to do," Christopher Johnson said. He was at the rally.
While Vernikov is a licensed gun owner, she was given a desk appearance ticket for criminal possession of a firearm, since openly carrying one is not allowed in New York City.
"I think that was more intimidation. I think she was trying to show off to the Palestinians, try to scare them," Johnson said.
The City Council speaker is now referring the matter to the Standards and Ethics Committee, which Vernikov serves on, and may require her recusal.
Though no one at the rally was injured, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams called Vernikov's actions "a dangerous dereliction of our duty as elected officials."
"New York's gun safety laws apply to everyone," Gov. Kathy Hochul posted on social media.
"No one is above the law," a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams added.
Some of Vernikov's constituents are defending her.
"Maybe she felt she needs to have some ways to protect herself," Sheepshead Bay resident Vadim Gringas said.
"Obviously she feels her safety and people surrounding her might be a priority. If she's licensed to have it, I don't see any problem with it," Sheepshead Bay resident Ralph Czeisler said.
No one answered at Vernikov's district office Friday, and her phone went to voicemail.
Police said when Vernikov turned herself in, she had to surrender her 9mm gun and permit license.
So far, Vernikov has not responded to our multiple requests for comment.
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