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NYPD accused of using excessive force on Brooklyn protesters, but mayor says videos show officers were right

NYPD accused of unnecessary force at Brooklyn protest
NYPD accused of unnecessary force at Brooklyn protest 03:08

NEW YORK -- The head of the New York Civil Liberties Union says NYPD officers used unnecessary force during a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Brooklyn, but Mayor Eric Adams is defending the officers for handling "an unruly group of people." 

Officers arrested 44 people at the rally Saturday on Fifth Avenue near Ovington Avenue in Bay Ridge. Most were for blocking traffic and refusing to disperse. 

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Liberman said the officers' actions were "over the top." 

"It looked from the media coverage that there was a massive response that was harsh, brutal and with force," said Lieberman. 

NYCLU and mayor say videos of the rally support their claims 

A video of the rally shows one NYPD officer repeatedly punching a demonstrator. Videos from NYPD show an officer sprayed with water, a flag-waving protester riding on top of an MTA bus, officers being assaulted and incendiary devices being exploded. 

"We all have a right to protest. You don't have a right to ride on top of a bus, you don't have a right to spit at police officers," said Adams. "Look at that entire incident. That was a complete disruption of the entire Bay Ridge Community and I take my hat off to the police department, how they handled an unruly group of people." 

Adams said over 30 of the people arrested did not live in Bay Ridge and that over sixty 911 calls were held up because protesters blocked emergency vehicles. 

"It's deeply disappointing to see Mayor Adams responding in a way that is reminiscent of Rudy Giuliani quite frankly, and I hesitate to say that," said Lieberman. 

The dueling accounts of what happened come after controversial NYPD actions during Black Lives Matter protests forced the city to enter into agreements with the Civil Liberties Union and Legal Aid Society that set new terms for how police can respond to protests. 

"We received reports that even credentialed press were arrested by the NYPD. They can't do that," said Lieberman. 

Both sides are investigating what happened - and both are relying on videos of the demonstrations to prove they are right. 

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