By Eric Klein and Kevin Deutsch
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Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark on Tuesday said her office will move to dismiss more than 300 summonses the NYPD issued to protestors arrested at a June 4 demonstration decrying the police killing of George Floyd.
In a statement posted on her office’s website, Clark said prosecutors will file the motion Thursday with Bronx Criminal Court’s Supervising Judge. If granted, it would negate the summonses police issued protestors June 4 for alleged disorderly conduct and violation of an emergency curfew order.
“I believe in and encourage our Bronx residents to raise their voices to protest social and racial injustice in a peaceful way,” Clark said in the written statement. “I said back in June that I would not prosecute protestors simply for violating the curfew. While my Office does not prosecute summonses, I will file a motion with the court to dismiss theses summonses, which were issued June 4 in the Mott Haven section, in the interest of justice.”
She added: “I believe it serves no purpose to summon hundreds of people to the courthouse for low-level violations. These unprecedented times require prosecutors to be flexible as well as compassionate.”
Police violently cracked down on curfew-breaking protestors at the June 4 protest, with smartphone footage showing cops beating demonstrators with batons, using force to arrest multiple marchers, and hauling zip-tied activists off to jail in waiting Department of Correction buses.
The police action was personally overseen by NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, who was seen on video directing officers to take at least one peaceful demonstrator into custody, authorities said.
Witnesses at the time told Bronx Justice News that a large number of cops arrived at the protest in force fifteen minutes before curfew, hemmed in demonstrators once the clock struck 8 p.m., and began arresting marchers.
Multiple activist groups – including the radical grassroots organizations Decolonize This Place and Take Back the Bronx – as well as hundreds of local residents, marched across the borough in response to the police killing of George Floyd, who was slain by cops in Minneapolis in May.
One of Floyd’s killers kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes, until his heart stopped. The officers involved have been arrested and charged in Floyd’s death.
The Bronx protestors targeted by cops June 4 had been marching through The Hub, a business district in the heart of the South Bronx.
The area is among the poorest neighborhoods in America, with data showing residents suffer disproportionally from air pollution, asthma, poor health outcomes, food deserts, overpolicing, street violence, and COVID-19, among other ills.
The mass unrest roiling cities across the U.S. this year first reached the Bronx in early June, with demonstrations turning violent near Yankee Stadium and looters laying waste to stores during a destructive, hours-long spree, authorities said.
Amid violent clashes with police, the looters damaged local pharmacies, delis, beauty supply stores, pawn shops, and other businesses on Fordham Road, the Grand Concourse, and Burnside Avenue, busting out storefront windows and making off with stolen property, according to the NYPD.
Multiple fires were set in borough roadways, their flames burning well into the early morning hours as police struggled to contain unrest across the five boroughs.
The next day, scores of community members came together to clean up the debris and begin repairing property damage in the Bronx.
Clark said her office will proceed with prosecution of looters arrested in June.