New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson filed the federal civil rights complaint Monday, alleging the New York City Police Department violated their free speech rights, assaulted them and illegally arrested Myrie
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A New York state senator and assembly member were surrounded by New York City police and then beaten with department-issued bikes, along with other peaceful protesters at a 2020 racial injustice march, a new lawsuit alleges.

New York State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Assemblywoman Diana Richardson filed the federal civil rights complaint Monday, alleging the New York City Police Department violated their free speech rights, assaulted them, and illegally arrested Myrie, The New York Times reported.

The lawsuit is the latest in a string of legal actions taken against police departments around the country in the wake of George Floyd’s murder and the 2020 protests against racial injustice and police brutality. There are already multiple similar lawsuits pending against the NYPD, including one filed by the state’s attorney general, and a class action representing more than 400 protesters. 

In Monday’s complaint, Myrie and Richardson say they went to take part in a protest on May 29 outside Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. Myrie wore a neon green shirt emblazoned with the words ‘Senator Myrie’ in order to identify himself, he said in the lawsuit. 

The pair also reached out to the commanding officer of the district before the protest to let him know they would be attending, and were told that NYPD Chief Jeffrey B. Maddrey would be there and available should they need anything.

However, at 8 p.m., police announced they were shutting the protest down, then surrounded the crowd with their bikes, hemming them in, the lawsuit says. It says, without warning, officers started to pick up their NYPD bicycles and hit protesters with them. 

Richardson was allegedly hit in the abdomen and pelvis, while Myrie was hit in the back and legs. Both lawmakers were allegedly pepper-sprayed in the face, and Myrie was arrested and cuffed with zip-ties.

“The experience was a painful and humiliating reminder that following the rules and complying with police orders does not protect Black Americans from police brutality, not even Black Americans who have ascended to elected office,” the lawsuit reportedly said. Both the lawmakers are Black. 

The lawsuit names New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner Dermot F. Shea, and six individual officers as defendants.

The mayor has apologized for the NYPD’s conduct during the protests, but officers have not faced significant discipline as yet. The NYPD itself has not admitted responsibility, despite a city Department of Investigation finding that many officers violated protesters’ civil rights.

Since the death of George Floyd in late May, protests and lawsuits have been sparked across the country. Top Class Actions has compiled a comprehensive guide to these issues to help our readers stay updated on the ongoing situation. Click here to read more

Last month, plaintiffs who filed a class action lawsuit against the City of Santa Rosa, California, after being injured by police actions during a George Floyd protest secured a $1.9 million settlement.

What do you think of the allegations against the NYPD? Let us know in the comments.

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