Video: Cop Cocks Shotgun & Asks Protesters, “Are You Scared?”

Originally Published in Gothamist

The NYPD recently decided against policing protests with machine guns, but it looks like the Port Authority police aren’t ready to put down their shotguns.

Friday night, more than 30 Black Lives Matter protesters converged on Penn Station, carrying pictures and chanting the names of people who have died at the hands of the NYPD.

After leaving Penn Station, the group drifted over to the Lincoln Tunnel entrance, and resolved to block Manhattan-bound traffic for 11 minutes—one minute for each time Garner told police “I can’t breathe.”

No sooner had the group spread itself across the two lanes of incoming traffic than a group of Port Authority police approached, says Patrick Waldo, who was among the protesters. One of the officers was carrying a shotgun.

“The officer with the gun was one of the first that I noticed,” Waldo said. “He actually had hand-on-the trigger, shotgun up in the air. We were all like, whoa whoa whoa, take it easy!”

“We mic-check that we’re gonna be there for 11 minutes,” says Kim Ortiz, one of the organizers of the protest. “And then we hear the officer rack the gun. We were like, ‘We’re armed with a banner and cardboard signs!’ He was like, ‘Are you scared, are you scared?’ And we were like ‘No, we’re not scared.’”

There’s video of the incident. Around minute 3:20, you can see the officer with the shotgun approach.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

On the video, the officer can be seen telling the assembled group of peaceful protesters that “this isn’t about protest, I’m worried about terrorism.”

“He saw the signs and the banners,” says Keegan Stephan, another protester who witnessed the exchange. “It made it clear that his motivation was to intimidate a peaceful protest. It blurs those lines around the difference between peaceful protest and terrorism.”

About eight minutes into the 11-minute protest, another Port Authority officer showed up toting a shotgun. Another video clearly shows him, at the 3:20 mark, loading and then racking his gun in front of the protesters. The officer’s badge identifies him as M. Fusco.

The Port Authority’s press office did not immediately respond to our request for comment. We’ll update if they get back to us.

For the protesters, the officers’ display of weapons was a clear example of precisely the issues that had moved them into the streets in the first place. “We were out there to address the militarization of the police, over-policing, police brutality, and the disconnect between police and the communities that they are hired to serve and protect,” Waldo said. “And here was that disconnect on full display. It was this guy who walked up to us with his gun drawn and no words. No language, no words, just a gun. And that’s exactly why we’re out there every night that we are: to say that there should be communication, there should be language.”

Ortiz says the cops’ behavior won’t dissuade her from protesting. “It makes me more inclined to be out there,” she says. “It’s a testament to exactly what we’re going out to protest for. As long as there are police that do that, there will be marchers.”

Nick Pinto is a freelance writer living in New York.

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