New York City’s top uniformed police officer, two lieutenants and a sergeant were injured on Wednesday in two separate incidents on the Brooklyn Bridge, including one that involved an attack with some kind of stick or pole as protesters marched nearby, officials said.
The altercations were the latest to erupt between officers and the public in the roughly seven weeks since the city became the scene of widespread protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
And it came on a day when Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills meant to rein in police abuses — the most contentious measure being a ban on chokeholds. The department and police union leaders have said the new laws would make it harder for officers to do their jobs and lead to an onslaught of crime.
The episode on Wednesday occurred around 9:45 a.m., when Terence A. Monahan, the Police Department’s chief of department and top uniformed officer, and other officers tried to arrest a person who had jumped onto the bridge’s roadway from the adjoining walkway during a Black Lives Matter protest march, Lt. John Grimpel, a Police Department spokesman said.
With a small group gathered on the walkway near the officers as they took the person into custody, someone in a purple shirt ran toward the crowd and swung a long, thin instrument twice at the police, causing at least one of the officers to reach for his head as if he had been struck, according to a 10-second video clip of the episode released by the department.
The assailant backed away immediately after striking the officers and was still being sought, Lieutenant Grimpel said. It was not clear whether the person wielding the stick had a connection to the person who was being arrested, the lieutenant said.
In a message posted on Twitter along with the video clip, the department said that three officers had been “violently attacked by protesters crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.”
“This is not peaceful protest,” the message continued. “This will not be tolerated.”
A second post showed several officers with blood on their heads.
The bridge attack left a lieutenant and a sergeant with cuts on their scalps and Chief Monahan with an injured hand, Lieutenant Grimpel said. “We don’t believe it’s broken,” the lieutenant added of the chief’s hand. A second lieutenant sustained a broken eye socket when he was punched in a separate incident.
As the top uniformed officer, Chief Monahan is in many ways the public face of the Police Department’s 36,000 rank-and-file members. He has criticized many of the criminal justice changes being pushed by activists and some elected officials.
During the protests, he has been a somewhat contradictory figure: showing solidarity with demonstrators by taking a knee on one occasion and personally overseeing aggressive arrests on another.
As the protests continue, Mr. de Blasio and Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea have said that officers are acting with restraint, even when they encounter violent resistance. But there is ample evidence, as documented by The New York Times, of violence on the part of officers as well.
The protesters who marched across the bridge on Wednesday were headed to a rally at City Hall Park in Manhattan that was organized by clergy leaders, among others. By day’s end, 37 people had been arrested in or near the park, six of them for felony assault, Lieutenant Grimpel said.
Jeffery C. Mays and Andy Newman contributed reporting.
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