The woman of color is a loiterer. Right? Wrong! The Internet has been full of police abuse in the last month since a police officer killed an armed teenage black for walking in the middle of a Ferguson (MO) street. Here’s one example from mid-July.
Chaumtoli Huq was outside a Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant, waiting for her husband and children to use the restroom inside. NYPD officers ordered her to “move along” after a pro-Palestinian rally.
Huq said she would leave as soon as her family came out of the restaurant. The police officers slammed her into a wall, pinned her wrists, and forcefully arrested her. Police claimed that she had refused instructions to move and had “flailed her arms and twisted her body” to make it hard for them to handcuff her. After she cried out in pain, one officer said, “Shut your mouth.” When she was handcuffed, she yelled, “Help!”
One of the police officers, Ryan Lathrop, took exception to the fact that her last name is different from that of her husband. He said that “in America, wives take the names of their husbands.” Lathrop is under investigation by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau, for allegedly confiscating the phone of someone who was taping him and then roughing him up.
The 42-year-old mother of two was held for nine hours before being released by accepting an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal. Charges against her are dropped if she is not re-arrested in the near future. One of the charges against Huq was “blocking the sidewalk.” Just a few days before Huq’s arrest, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared being on sidewalks appropriate in a case about anti-abortionists at Massachusetts’ women’s clinics. The SCOTUS ruling stated that the sidewalk is a place of First Amendment rights. Sidewalks are “venues for the exchange of ideas” and a public forum where people can engage in public debate, according to SCOTUS. And Huq was just waiting for her family.
Something that the police probably found out by the time that she was released is that Huq is a human rights attorney. The day before the police assault, Huq had taken a leave of absence as a top attorney with New York City’s Public Advocate’s office to focus on the abuse of garment workers in her home country of Bangladesh. Before her job with New York, she had a history of notable appointments.
This week, Huq filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court alleging that the New York Police Department officers who arrested her used “unreasonable and wholly unprovoked force” as she was waiting for family. As a Muslim and a woman of color, she believes her treatment at the hands of the NYPD is “characteristic of a pattern and practice of the NYPD in aggressive overpolicing of people of color and persons lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Originally she was reluctant to file the suit because her job has caused her to be behind the scenes and “help all New Yorkers.” Eventually, she decided that bringing the lawsuit would “raise awareness about overpolicing in communities of color” and create “a dialogue on policing and community relations.”
New York City Public Advocate Letitia Jameshas has called for NYPD cops to be equipped with cameras to record their interactions with people. NYPD officers might want to stop profiling and killing people.