NYPD Accused Of Using A Chokehold On Pregnant Black Woman

This weekend, police in Brooklyn, New York, busted some folks who were grilling on the sidewalk — which, I didn’t know until reading this New York Daily News article, is illegal. But a “melee” broke out, with several of the parties resisting arrest. Now there are photographs being distributed by a community advocacy group which purport to show a NYPD officer with his arm in an illegal chokehold around a woman, Rosan Miller, who is seven-months pregnant.

Police chokeholds — i.e. when an officer wraps their arm a person’s neck — are front-page news in New York City right now because of a recent death on Staten Island. A 43-year-old father named Eric Garner died on July 17th after he was put in an apparent chokehold. His crime had been selling “loosies” (loose cigarettes). Garner, who was unarmed, had asthma and reportedly had told police that he couldn’t breathe before he died. (The response from the paramedics who arrived at the scene could be described as lackadaisical.) Police chokeholds have been banned by the NYPD.

According to the Daily News, police were allegedly at Miller’s building because of an unrelated domestic incident when they came upon the grilling. As I said before, I’ve lived in New York City for the better part of 13 years and I didn’t even know setting up a grill on the sidewalk (most of us don’t have backyards) is illegal. Noting that Eric Garner’s family has asked the federal government to investigate his chokehold-related death as a civil rights violation, you have to wonder whether the fact that Rosan Miller is Black had something to do with the officer’s response. Would a white woman on the Upper East Side have been treated the same way as Miller — regarding either the grilling or the alleged chokehold? (You can read more here about the NYPD’s “broken windows” theory of policing, i.e. going after smaller offenses, here.) I’m surprised, too, that there were arrests over this incident: Miller’s husband was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice and her brother was charged with harassment and obstruction of justice.

Everyone can agree that police need to be able to be able to do their job, which sometimes involves physically restraining a suspect. But surely police must have bigger problems than a pregnant lady grilling hot dogs. And rough treatment of a pregnant woman is completely unacceptable, no matter what her offense might be.

[New York Daily News]
[Gothamist]
[New York Times (1)]
[New York Times (2)]

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