After being spotted smoking a joint in a New York City Park, a young man was violently assaulted and then arrested in Brooklyn Wednesday evening. Fritzroy Gayle, 20, was heading home from his second job prior to 8 PM, when he stopped to pick up a few groceries for his mother and smoke a joint in the park with a friend. Before he fully understood what was going on, the young man had been tackled and was being forcefully kneed and kicked by over a half dozen police officers from the 69th Precinct.
“I don’t have a weapon on me,” the man pleads.
Confusion ensues as an ununiformed police officer approaches him.
“What crime did I commit? You’re supposed to tell me. That’s the law.”
Out of nowhere, several other offices join the situation and help to restrain the young man. “Officer, please!” the man yells. “I am not resisting! I am not resisting!” he calls out.
Gayle’s 58 year old mother was in a state of panic when Fritzroy did not return home on time and only learned the details of his assault when a family member saw the now viral video of his arrest on social media.
The now viral video of the incident was captured by New York comedian, Velvet, who took to Twitter to share her footage and thoughts regarding the brutality she had witnessed.
“I was about to cross the street and then I saw the cop’s gun, so I stopped my music and I heard the guy say ‘can you identify yourself?’ and that’s when I pulled out my phone.”
“It was all unnecessary”, Velvet reflects. “And the fact that the cop would not identify himself, in his street clothes, when using police force and would not answer him when he asked what crime he committed is a complete abuse of power.”
Brutality from law enforcement has lasting effects.
Incidents of excessive police force and, or brutality can have profound impact upon both the physical mental health of those targeted and can result in conditions including PTSD. Velvet takes a step further and acknowledges the terrible toll such incidents can have upon those who are victimized.
“…I know it is triggering. And I highkey did not want to post it for that reason and because of his screams. But this shit gotta stop.”
While cannabis was decriminalized in New York in 2019, officers can still arrest users in extreme situations, such as if they appear to be a threat to law enforcement. In the case of Fritzroy Gayle, the NYPD claims that Gayle and his fried fled the scene after spotting the officer, who was not in uniform.
NYPD officers have continually been urged to use “extreme caution” when arresting individuals for using cannabis.
In 2018, New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio, instructed the NYPD to cease arresting New Yorkers for smoking cannabis in public. “With marijuana legalization likely to occur in our state in the near future, it is critical our city plans for the public safety, health, and financial consequences involved,” the mayor said in a statement, first reported by the Daily News. The number of cannabis arrests has declined in New York, yet approximately 90% of the arrests made by the NYPD for low-level cannabis possession and use in 2019 were amongst individuals who identify as “people of color”.