NYPD denies ever using ‘kettling’ tactic against protesters

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Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes
Photo by Mark Hallum

After a night of controversial arrests relating to demonstrations in Lower Manhattan, NYPD Chief of Patrol Juanita Holmes claimed the department has never employed the tactic known as kettling against protesters and that she had never heard the term until recently.

During a Thursday afternoon press conference at One Police Plaza, NYPD officials briefed the press on some of the events that went down the night before in which they arrested up 50 people, many of whom are accused of carrying items such as knives, Tasers, hammers, lighter fluid and spray paint.

Commissioner Dermot Shea explained that some of the tactics employed by the protesters originated in literature recovered from those arrested and could be traced back Hong Kong protests earlier this year.

“We saw people with intent of disrupting peaceful protesters and with intent of destruction. This small number of individuals have no regard for safety – some chose violence, officers were struck,” Holmes said. “There was also the term of ‘kettling.’ I don’t even know what that is unless it’s related to cows. Kettling is not used by this department, it is not in any of our patrol guides nor is it part of our training.”

Holmes said the there were acts of violence against officers who she claims were trying to avoid making arrests. Arrests were only made, she said, because people were given an opportunity to clear the streets and did. 

Crow bars and fireworks such as M80s were also compiled in the evidence gathered by NYPD officers.

Some of the tactics used by protesters, which NYPD officials say is an evolution from the demonstrations held over the summer of the death of George Floyd. This included the delegation of roles such as throwing objects, set fires, break windows, which one detective said originated in Hong Kong.

De-arrests, in which a person under arrest is pulled away by the larger group, was also part of the “globalization of tactics” mentioned by department officials

Many of those arrested Wednesday night had been arrested before, according to NYPD.

“You see daggers, you see markers, you see the M80s, the stun gun. There’s only one use for a stun gun, right?” Shea said before turning to a question regarding de-escalation. “I would say that [different protesters] are treated exactly the same and if you think of the numbers… we could have 20 or 30 protests that we’re monitoring at the same time. The majority of them – not the biggest protests, some only grow into a several hundred – are handled flawlessly.”

The issue of kettling has become the focus of investigations into the NYPD’s handling of Demonstrations in late May and Early June and included accusations from human rights watch groups and the Legal Aid Society.