BLM protester accused NYPD officers of sexual assault during Brooklyn Bridge march

Maila Beach is embraced by fellow protesters after she remembered the assault.
Photo by Dean Moses

A Black Lives Matter protester claimed Thursday at a Lower Manhattan press conference she was the victim of sexual misconduct and assault at the hands of the NYPD — something which the department vehemently denied in a statement.

Throughout a year of protesting the police killings of Black and Brown individuals such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, many demonstrators have fostered strong bonds with one another, so much so that peacefully protesting is akin to marching with family. For Maila Beach, the night of April 24 began like so many others, with the excited reunion of fellow comrades before beginning to stride across the Brooklyn Bridge calling for justice.

However, it resulted in a living nightmare. On May 6, Beach returned to the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge beside her lawyer, Tahanie Aboushi (who is also a candidate for Manhattan district attorney), just outside of City Hall where she recounted her story.

Maila Beach stands alongside Tahanie Aboushi as they relive the incident. Photo by Dean Moses

Beach tearfully recalled her experience on the Brooklyn Bridge April 24, as NYPD officers created a blockade with their bikes, which forced protesters to retreat. Marchers interlocked arms and backed up, which is when she recalls officers weaponized their cycles and pepper sprayed protesters.

Then things grew out of control. Beach said she was nabbed by an officer and forced to the ground. Just under a half-dozen members of law enforcement pounced on Beach, attempting to place her into bounds. By remaining still and complying, she said, she believed the process would be over quickly. However, that was not the case.

Tahanie Aboushi comforts Beach. Photo by Dean Moses

“I could feel the front of my shirt being pulled up. At first, I was stunned and thought it was okay, that they didn’t mean to. I shouted: ‘you are taking off my shirt,'” Beach said. “Then I felt it being pulled past my chest and realized they are puling off my shirt. I started panicking and screaming as loud as I could that they were taking off my shirt. I started to try and pull down my shirt, but I was met with yells of ‘stop resisting.’”

Beach said she pleaded with officers, attempting to explain that she was merely struggling to remain clothed. She said she wound up being struck in the back of her skull and zip-tied before having her shirt hoisted over her head and then lifted to her feet.

With her pants falling down, she claimed, officers actually grabbed her slacks and yanked them down to her ankles, where she was then paraded to a nearby van.

“Then they made me stand there and wait naked for about 10 minutes,” Beach remembered through a stream of tears.

Beach breaks down into tears. Photo by Dean Moses

Beach and Aboushi said they will seek legal action against the NYPD.

After reaching out for comment, NYPD sources say they will review the lawsuit if and when they are served. However, police officials claim the incident did not take the place the way in which Beach and witnesses assert.

“A preliminary review of the incident indicates that officers made every effort to ensure the individual remained clothed during the arrest, including asking for the assistance of a female officer in the process,” the NYPD said in a statement. “This person was arrested and later issued a summons as part of a group of people who had announced they were going to block the Brooklyn Bridge for an hour while thousands of people were stuck in residual traffic due to the roadblocks and detours resulting from the DMX memorial service. A series of announcements were given before any arrests were made of persons who refused to comply with the instructions to leave the Brooklyn Bridge roadway. The individual arrested in this incident was released after receiving a summons for blocking the roadway.”

Fellow protesters rush to Beach’s side after the conference. Photo by Dean Moses

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