Smif N Wessun, a rap group from Brooklyn, NY, was holding an album release party for Monumental (an album produced by the legendary rapper/producer Pete Rock) when the Les nightclub where the party was at was shut down by NYPD officers due to a fight that took place near it which they figured started inside in the club. Officers came in, shut it down, and left a bunch of the partygoers as well as the artists walking home with the police guiding them along as if they were a deadly mob out to cause havoc.
The video above, recorded by UK DJ Lady Diamond, showcases how out of control the situation became when the police used brute force to move folks along (you can see one attack after the 2:51 mark).
I initially wasn't interested in commenting on the situation. For one, I try to wait for the facts to come out before I make a judgement call. Secondly, if I make a judgement call without understanding the facts, I am no better than any other journalist out here who wants to put something out because it's hot in the news right now.
The thing that changed my mind, which you can see in this particular video, is the fact if force was needed (as I'm sure the NYPD cops will claim) then why did they need several officers to subdue one person? Obviously the guy the cops knocked to the ground wasn't armed; what kind of sense does that make to take a man down when he clearly isn't a threat or has nothing on him that would make him a threat?
I believe the New York City Police Department, like any police department, has it's share cops that are good as well as cops that are bad. I also believe that the department would have a better reputation if they could figure out how to tone down the "I'm the law" motto they wear in their actions and figure out more thoughtful ways of handling the general public. Really this could all be attributed to a quote that I heard once about great power coming with great responsibility.
When you shut down a party, which is designed for people to forget their troubles and celebrate, you can't expect the people within the party to have a particularly good mood. The cops of New York City should have understood that. They didn't.
Lawsuits will be coming soon as a result, and I imagine the average New York police officer isn't going to feel all that good about suiting up for the new few days. I feel sorry for the ones who had nothing to do with this ugly set of circumstances. The fact of the matter is that the officers of New York have to hold each other accountable for the other's actions. If one cop or several take the law into their own hands, other cops will suffer.
(There are apparently other videos out that showcase different angles of the same situation, but I haven't found one that accurately showcases the whole thing back to front. I am only putting DJ Lady Diamond's video up because her video showcased some of the action on ground level. If anyone has any video on ground level that isn't always changing camera angles, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org)