N.Y.P.D. Besieges a Protest Leader as He Broadcasts Live

The Four Percent

Derrick Ingram, an organizer of a group leading New York’s Black Lives Matter protests, was besieged inside his Manhattan apartment on Friday while a police helicopter patrolled overhead, officers banged on his door and police dogs waited in the hallway.

The street outside had been closed off by roughly two dozen police vehicles and dozens of officers, including some who were wearing tactical gear and carrying shields. At the end of the block, Black Lives Matter supporters had gathered with bullhorns and cameras to protest what appeared to be Mr. Ingram’s imminent arrest.

“What did I do? What did I do?” he said on a livestream posted on Instagram. “I was born Black, that’s what I did.”

The tense standoff in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood continued for several hours as Mr. Ingram, 28, talked to lawyers via Zoom and communicated with the outside world over the Instagram video.

He declined to let the officers enter his apartment without a warrant. A police spokeswoman, Sgt. Jessica McRorie, said later that the officers were there to arrest him on charges that he had assaulted an officer by yelling in her ear with a megaphone.

In the end, the police left shortly after 1 p.m. without arresting him, and he turned himself in on Saturday morning at the Midtown North Precinct, accompanied by his lawyer and about 100 peaceful supporters.

But the tremendous show of force on Friday renewed questions about how the Police Department is addressing the protests for racial justice that have continued in New York for weeks and how they are dealing with those who participate in them.

The episode came about 10 days after the arrest of a transgender woman, Nikki Stone, 18, who was taken away from a protest in an unmarked van in a move that drew criticism from Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

In that instance, Mr. de Blasio suggested the arrest had been justified, but he criticized its execution, saying police leaders should have handled it differently given continuing tensions over the department’s practices.

Mr. Ingram was arrested on Saturday on a second-degree assault charge in connection with an incident during a protest in Midtown Manhattan on June 14, Sergeant McRorie said in a statement.

The sergeant said that Mr. Ingram had struggled with an officer who tried to stop him from crossing a police line during the demonstration. Mr. Ingram is accused of placing a live megaphone against the officer’s ear and yelling, “causing pain and protracted impairment of hearing,” Sergeant McRorie said.

When Mr. Ingram was brought before a judge on Saturday afternoon, a prosecutor from the Manhattan district attorney’s office asked that the charge be reduced to a misdemeanor assault and that Mr. Ingram be released without bail. The judge agreed and Mr. Ingram was released.

“Our office does not condone the extraordinary tactics employed by police on Friday,” said Danny Frost, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office. “These actions were disproportionate to the alleged offense that occurred two months ago, and unjustifiably escalated conflict between law enforcement and the communities we serve.”

Mr. Ingram’s lawyer, Dorothy Weldon, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mr. Ingram is a founder of Warriors in the Garden, a group that has led many marches and rallies around the city since forming in June.

With hundreds of people watching the scene unfold on Warriors in the Garden’s Instagram account, Mr. Ingram sat in the living room of his West 45th Street apartment while a police officer pounded on his door and told him to come out.

At one point, the officer could be heard saying the police were treating Mr. Ingram “like a gentleman.”

“Why do you think ‘hostage negotiation’ is here right now?” Mr. Ingram said to those who were watching the video. “They have dogs. I can hear the dogs in the hallway. They’re texting me right now.”

Addressing the audience, he said he was afraid that the officers would hurt him if he went outside or would plant something incriminating in his home if he let them in.

The video was interrupted at another point. When it resumed, he said he believed the officers were interfering with his cellphone calls so that every time he got one, a “detective” was intercepting it. The claim could not be verified.

In a statement issued later, Mr. Ingram said the officers who came to his home had not produced a warrant and had “used threats and intimidation tactics.” 

“This was an attempt to silence our movement,” he said. “This militarized police response endangers the safety of residents in Hell’s Kitchen and across” New York City.

Warriors in the Garden formed in New York amid the demonstrations that began after the killing in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Several of its leaders — most of whom are Black and in their 20s — live in Hell’s Kitchen and elsewhere in Midtown Manhattan.

On Saturday morning, Mr. Ingram led a march of a hundred protesters to the Midtown North Precinct station house on West 54th Street, where he planned to turn himself in.

With one fist held high and the other holding onto a fellow protester, Mr. Ingram chanted along, “Where’s the warrant? They don’t have it!”

The group was met by two dozen officers in riot gear, who blocked off 56th Street at Eighth Avenue. The police allowed only Mr. Ingram through with his lawyer and three fellow organizers.

Mr. Ingram held hands with the other organizers as they separated from the demonstration and made their way inside. Protesters shouted, “We believe in you! We love you!”

Kiara Williams, 20, a co-founder of Warriors in the Garden who walked with Mr. Ingram into the station, said Mr. Ingram decided to turn himself in before matters with the police escalated.

“He’s doing it for us,” Ms. Williams said. “He knew this was the right thing to do in order to protect everyone else.”

Several protesters said Friday’s confrontation was one in a series of episodes in which officers took seemingly extreme measures to make an arrest.

“People are asking, ‘Why, why is this happening?’ and we’re able to ask why because we’re finally watching,” said Chi Ossé, 22, another co-founder of Warriors in the Garden. “And we’re watching in a mass and sharing it with the rest of the world.”

Troy Closson, Juliana Kim and Ali Watkins contributed reporting.

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