A weekend standoff between an African-American activist who has spent several months organizing and leading Black Lives Matter protests in New York and NYPD officers played out on Instagram Live.
On Friday, police tried to arrest Derrick Ingram, 28, who leads the activist group Warriors in the Garden at his New York apartment. He was suspected of assaulting an officer when he allegedly yelled through a megaphone into a police officer’s ear during a June 14 protest.
But when cops tried to take him into custody, they did it by using tactics more common to taking down an armed assailant. NYPD officers showed up to his Manhattan home, some of them in tactical gear, while others had police dogs. Sharpshooters pointed rifles at his window and more than 30 police vehicles were outside the building, according to a statement from Ingram’s organization, CNN reported, although the outlet could not independently confirm that.
"This was an attempt to silence our movement," the group’s statement says. "This militarized police response endangers the safety of residents in Hell's Kitchen and across NYC."
While this was happening, Ingram went on Instagram Live to broadcast the incident. “What did I do? What did I do?” he said on a livestream posted on Instagram. “I was born Black, that’s what I did.”
As he continued his live broadcast, police could be heard beating on his apartment door, but he refused to let them in.
“Why do you think ‘hostage negotiation’ is here right now?” Ingram said during the broadcast. “They have dogs. I can hear the dogs in the hallway. They’re texting me right now.”
According to The New York Times, Ingram continued to speak with his lawyers over Zoom as officers remained at his building. He would not allow police into his apartment without a warrant. Despite the show of force from cops, they withdrew from the site after several hours without an arrest. He turned himself in the next morning, while accompanied by his lawyers and other demonstrators. He was released on his own recognizance and was arraigned, the Manhattan district attorney's office told CNN.
But legal experts watching what happened to Ingram blasted the NYPD’s heavy handed approach to taking him into custody.
“The presence of NYPD officers on Mr. Ingram's fire escape, helicopters circling overhead, and police dogs was a shocking demonstration of the tactics the NYPD is willing to undertake to suppress dissent," Lupe Todd-Medina, a spokesperson for NY County Defender Services told CNN.
Even prosecutors said that the NYPD may have gone too far.
“Our office does not condone the extraordinary tactics employed by police on Friday,” Danny Frost, a Manhattan district attorney’s office spokesman told the Times. “These actions were disproportionate to the alleged offense that occurred two months ago, and unjustifiably escalated conflict between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”
After his release, Ingram addressed supporters about what happened to him and he blamed the leadership of the NYPD for the incident.
"I'm highly traumatized from everything from the drones, to the dogs, to the lies that have been told by the NYPD," he told the crowd. "I think we should focus our efforts on getting Commissioner [Dermot] Shea out of office."
Photo Credit: Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images