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City Councilman Jumaane Williams: NYPD Lying About West Indian Day Parade Incident

City Councilman Jumaane Williams: NYPD Lying About West Indian Day Parade Incident

A city councilman detained by police at the West Indian Day parade said today that it wouldn’t have happened if he had been white — and denounced what he called a “bald-faced lie” from the NYPD’s top spokesman.

“Some comments were made by the NYPD saying that a punch was thrown,” said Councilman Jumaane Williams (D-Brooklyn) who was handcuffed by police along with a top aide to Public Advocate Bill de Blasio while entering a restricted area on his way to a Brooklyn Museum reception after the parade.

“That saddens me,” Williams said of the a statement released late yesterday by NYPD spokesman Paul Browne, who said a police captain at the scene had been punched by an “unknown individual.”

“Telling a bald-faced lie, particularly to the people that they’re lying about disturbs me,” Williams said. “How can we take seriously what the police will say in the future if they will lie to us about this? I defy the police to find one shred of evidence of any police officer punched in that incident.”

Williams and de Blasio aide Kirsten John Foy held a press conference on the city hall steps to denounce the incident and to call for policy changes in the NYPD.

Both stressed that they admire the police and work closely with officers, but called for changes in the way that young black and Latino men are treated.

“We do have to acknowledge that if I did not look the way I look — young, black, with [dreadlocks] and earrings… we are sure that things would have been handled differently,” said Williams, who noted that he was recently stopped by an officer who wanted to make sure he owned the car he was driving.

“The vast majority of people who would disagree with this statement are not black and Latino.”

Police Commmissioner Ray Kelly said he was looking into the situation and had asked his internal affairs department to investigate: “I don’t know what transpired,” he told reporters today. “I don’t know exactly what was said. I don’t know what led up to the arrest, and hopefully we’ll be able to get that information quickly.”

Williams and Foy were surrounded by a dozen other elected officials at their press conference, including nearly all of the Democrats running for mayor in 2013 — de Blasio, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, City Controller John Liu and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

All called for an investigation and improvements to NYPD protocol in dealing with young minority men.

One elected official even went so far as to compare civil rights in New York to South African apartheid.

“Each and every day, we’re hearing more and more about the violation of civil liberties in this town,” said U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn). “We are quickly moving to an apartheid situation here in the city of New York where we don’t recognize the civil liberties and the civil rights of all New Yorkers.”

She noted that she was considering taking her concerns to the U.S. Department of Justice.