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NYPD Commissioner Stands Behind Officers After Police Clash With Protesters At MLK Day March

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Dozens of protesters were arrested during a violent confrontation with police on Monday in Lower Manhattan.

What started as a peaceful march in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. turned into a tense standoff by City Hall.

The NYPD said police arrested 28 people, including a minor. At least 11 officers suffered minor injuries, including a captain who was hit over the helmet with a bottle.


Video showed intense moments as police tried to get control of the situation. One officer was seen pushing a person to the ground.

The chaos started after hundreds of Black liberation protesters marched over the Brooklyn Bridge and were met by police. Officers warned the crowd to move out of the street, but protesters did not, and officers seemingly pushed into the crowd to make arrests.

Bicycles and barricades were knocked around, and some people were dragged away by officers with zip-ties.

Frantzy Luzincourt, an event organizer, offered his opinion of the police response to CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.

"It was really disheartening and discouraging. We noticed that when we got off the bridge they started bringing in additional vehicles, and started kettling us and bringing in more officers with zip-ties as a way to kind of end the protest where we were instead of letting us continue on our route," Luzincourt said.

Darrin Porcher, a former NYPD lieutenant and current criminal justice professor at Pace University, weighed in.

"Whenever we have these demonstrations that occur without a permit and they block pedestrian traffic and major thoroughfares, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, we need to remove those individuals as quick as possible," Porcher said.

While most marchers argued they did nothing wrong to cause the unrest and some City Council members took to Twitter to defend them, Police Commissioner Dermot Shea backed the officers' tactics.

"If there's anything that we did inappropriately, that'll be dealt with. I did not see that," he said in an interview.

This comes as New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced last week a lawsuit against the NYPD for its use of excessive force at Black Lives Matter protests this past summer.

"Once again, we are seeing and hearing accounts of NYPD officers infringing on the rights of New Yorkers. The images of officers using excessive force against peaceful protesters is alarming and cause for deep concern. Less than a week after I filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over these very exact issues, we saw officers exhibit the same behavior," James said in a statement Tuesday. "As we laid out in our lawsuit, this is a longstanding pattern that must stop. These New Yorkers were marching in the spirit of Dr. King, who taught us that peaceful protest is the most powerful force in the fight for freedom, equality, and justice for all. I will continue to fight to protect these most basic rights."

Shea said he will leave the court proceedings up to lawyers, but when it comes to altercations like what went on Monday, he said people need to be held accountable.

"Breaking property, calling for the death of officers to burn the city down," he said. "I'm talking about very narrowly defined here -- people that are trying to destroy our way of life, hurt our cops that are putting their lives on the line every day. And it certainly seems like a lot of backs have been turned on them, and they're out there by themselves."

A Department of Investigation report in December showed the NYPD has made a number of key errors with large scale protests.

On Tuesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio continued to promise police reform is coming, pointing out the new disciplinary system penalty guidelines.

"This will revolutionize the way we discipline police officers who have done the wrong thing," he said. "The specific penalties are outlined right here -- the minimums and the maximums."

Everyone arrested in Monday's incident has been released. Most were charged with disorderly conduct or obstructing traffic.

CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis contributed to this report


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