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Ragbir protest turned chaotic results in one cop transferred: O’Neill

Immigration rights activists were arrested on Broadway in

Immigration rights activists were arrested on Broadway in Manhattan after Ravi Ragbir was detained on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

One cop involved in the NYPD’s chaotic arrests of immigration protesters earlier this month has been transferred to a less prestigious unit, according to the police commissioner.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill would not identify the cop or explain what the cop did to warrant the transfer to a patrol assignment, from the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group, which specializes in policing protests and responding to emergencies such as terrorist attacks.

And while O’Neill declined to say whether the transfer was a disciplinary action, he told a reporter: “Listen, he was removed from a specialized unit to patrol. You’ve been sitting in that chair long enough to know what that is.”

Eighteen people were arrested on Jan. 11, including several members of the New York City Council, during a protest about the unexpected detention of immigration rights leader Ravi Ragbir. Video from the day shows cops roughly handling the protesters, and one cop repeatedly grabbing protesters by the neck.

Ragbir had been a green card holder, or lawful permanent resident, decades ago, after coming to the United States in 1991 from Trinidad and Tobago. But after he was convicted of wire fraud in 2001 and served a prison sentence of nearly two years, the federal government ordered him deported in 2006.

He had checked in regularly with the federal government, as required, but on Jan. 11, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency abruptly detained him for deportation. As an ambulance rushed to take him to the hospital for a medical episode, some protesters were arrested for blocking the vehicle.

Those arrested, including councilman Jumaane Williams, said that the vehicle had no lights or sirens on. “To me, it was a passenger van,” Williams said days after his arrest. Williams said he was repeatedly shoved and that the use of force “was not anticipated” for an act of civil disobedience.

“Listen, this was a day none of us expected. Emotions were running high on both sides. Police officers were trying to get a man who they thought was possibly having a heart attack in an FDNY ambulance to the hospital, so they were doing their best to protect his life,” O’Neill said.

On Monday, a federal judge ordered Ragbir released from federal custody while he challenges his deportation. By Tuesday, Ragbir was in Washington, D.C., to attend the State of the Union as a guest of Rep. D. Clarke (D-NY).


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