Some 233 people have been arrested across the five boroughs over the last 17 days of large-scale protests following the war in Israel, police said on Tuesday.
The number of arrests remains relatively small compared to the thousands of pro-Israel and pro-Palestine supporters who have surged into about 105 demonstrations that have occurred all across the Big Apple since Hamas invaded Israel earlier this month. According to Chief of Patrol John Chell, over the course of the month 70,000 individuals are estimated to have attended the protests while the single largest gathering on 49th Street and 1st Avenue saw about 12,000 people show up.
“We’ve been able to mobilize thousands of cops, especially on that first Friday, the day of resistance that the community was concerned about,” Chief Chell said. “We continue to keep the peace.”
Chief Chell stated that of the 233 cuffed, the majority were arrested for acts of civil disobedience such as blocking traffic, resulting in minor infractions.
“Of the 233 arrests, 225 of those are violations, basically summonses. The rest were misdemeanors and felonies, a small amount. The point is, we’re not seeing violence out there between the protesters and our cops, we are seeing violation arrests, that’s what’s going on,” Chief Chell said.
While Chief Chell reported that despite the high tensions, violence at the demonstrations have been at a minimum considering their large scale. Still, several clashes with cops have occurred, most notably in Bay Ridge on Oct. 21. According to police, some 5,000 assembled for a protest that ended with bottles and eggs being hurled at officers. Cops apparently responded with force, allegedly pushing and even punching protesters.
“Things like throwing fireworks, bottles, eggs, that’s not protest, that’s criminal behavior. And so it has to be dealt with in that way,” top NYPD spokesman Tarik Sheppard said.
Across the 105 demonstrations Assistant Commissioner Kaz Daughtry said that the department has deployed drones 13 times in order to monitor the situations as they unfolded, including in Bay Ridge during the clashes. Commissioner Daughtry also reported that the drones captured every arrest.
We got the whole thing on video. We’ll be turning that evidence over to the Brooklyn DA’s office to help enhance those arrests,” Daughtry said. “When viewing video, we like to see where the crowd is going.”