Pete Rock, lawyers and others gather at City Hall to denounce police brutality
STEPHON JOHNSON Amsterdam News Staff | 7/6/2011, 5:55 p.m.
On Tuesday, legendary hip-hop producer Pete Rock, General Steele of Smiff-n-Wessun, lawyers and elected officials gathered at City Hall to denounce tactics used by members of the New York Police Department against a crowd leaving an album release party at Tammany Hall over a week ago.
Surrounded by friends and loved ones, Rock (whose real name is Peter Phillips) and Steele (Darrell A. Yates Jr.) spoke about their disappointment and anger over the police beatings. "I'm here to say that this definitely has to stop. Hip-hop is not the problem," said Rock. "For the other families out there who have been through this with us...be strong. This will stop."
Rock said that after the show, he walked out and encountered police beating on Luis Pena (another recording artist) and heard someone shout, "Pete! Your wife! Your wife!"
"So I ran outside and saw the police push my wife to the ground," Rock said.
Last week, Gabriel Diaz, James Jessy Ayala, Pena, Cynthia Rosa and Jade Everette were arrested and arraigned on charges including assault, rioting and resisting arrest. Police reports state that the crowd leaving Tammany Hall yelled and cursed at police and didn't follow instructions to disperse. However, the incident, captured on camera, tells a different story. It shows police being very aggressive and kicking and punching people to the ground, including Pete Rock's wife, Share McHayle, and her daughter Everett. It then shows the cops flashing lights on anyone with a camera and using force to clear the block
"The police have every right to defend themselves and use appropriate force, especially when they are being attacked themselves and protecting others," stated NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
It's a statement that attorney Kenneth Montgomery finds strange.
"Last week, many news organizations gathered around Raymond Kelly, and he said that the officers were justified," said Montgomery, who represents everyone charged by the police. "Well, I just wanted to let you know that the internal affairs bureau in the police department that works for Kelly wants to meet with me to go over this footage."
Montgomery told reports that internal affairs wouldn't give him a concrete date, but he expected to meet with them by the end of the week.
McHayle also expressed discontent with the situation. Taking long pauses between words to gather herself, she talked about her sadness over the event, especially with her daughter present. "I'm thinking I'm introducing [my daughter] to something beautiful," she said.
Steele wanted to clarify with reporters that this wasn't a setup just to bring attention to his group's recently released album with Pete Rock. "This is not in any form a publicity stunt. This is not the kind of the attention I wanted," he said. "It was frightening and disheartening, to say the least. Unwarranted. Unprovoked. In 2011, to think that there's such a disconnect between law enforcement and the community is frightening."
New York City Councilman Charles Barron was also at City Hall lending his support. Using a microphone, he called out the NYPD, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Kelly. He scoffed at the police officers treating the crowd at Tammany Hall like children.
"We know how to leave a premise," said Barron. "The organizers knew how to disperse people. This was a police riot. I wanna say this for Black men and Latino brothers. We ain't gonna take so much of you putting your hands on our women. Not a single victim of this police riot had a weapon on them. Not one. Once they put the gloves on and tell you to disperse, they're ready to riot."
Barron also had some choice words for the Manhattan district attorney.
"Cy Vance, the district attorney, Black people put your behind in office. You need to drop these charges and charge the police," said Barron.