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Police forcibly arrest protesters at Black Lives Matter march in East Meadow

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A group of police officers threw an East Meadow protester to the ground last Friday before arresting him, as seen in a video taken at a Black Lives Matter protest. The man in the video, Terrel Tuosto, was one of the leaders of the protest, which began at the East Meadow Mall and made its way east on Hempstead Turnpike for roughly two hours.

Tuosto was walking with a crowd of protesters to his right and police officers to his left. When an officer stopped short, Tuosto bumped into him, and then police pulled him down and two officers pinned him to the pavement before handcuffing him. Tuosto’s brother, Tiandre, had been taken into custody the same way minutes earlier, and a third man was arrested shortly afterward. The third arrest was captured in another video, which also shows police throwing the man to the ground. The video of that arrest can be seen in a tweet shared by @MarisaKabas at https://bit.ly/3d6C7k2.

Content warning: police brutality

Video shows cops today at a peaceful protest in East Meadow, NY (Long Island) violently arresting a man. According to bystanders “they kneeled on his neck and had about 6 officers holding him down.”https://t.co/XDJYPhg2BZ pic.twitter.com/5PJQWMZgiA

This was the East Meadow Protest in Long Island. Protestors were marching down Hempstead Tpke.⁣ ⁣ The cops said to stay on the side of the road so after like a couple minutes one of the organizers stepped onto the other side of the road and the cops arrested him. Everyone said it was violent and the cops drove off with him. The cops outnumbered the marchers easily, there were little kids marching and people in wheelchairs, etc. They had helicopters and drove up with a bus for mass arrests during a peaceful protest. The protestors kept marching down a closed road that they shut down traffic on, and they arrested the brother of the first guy for “walking on the wrong side of the street” even though both sides were shut down. They kneeled on his neck and had about 6 officers holding him down, then people started yelling and a cop walked into the crowd and pulled a third protester out of the crowd and slammed him onto the crowd. ⁣ ⁣ When the other organizer asked why they were arrested the police captain said “I don’t know”⁣ ⁣ TAG @news12li @cbsnews @foxnews @newsday⁣ @rosenbergradio @hot97 @angelayee @oldmanebro Thank you for the first two videos @mike_mo516

A post shared by Long Island Protests (@justiceforgeorgeli) on

All three men were charged with disorderly conduct, for allegedly obstructing traffic.

On Monday, Detective Lt. Richard LeBrun of the Nassau County Police Department said that the NCPD’s Department of Internal Affairs had launched an investigation into the arrests, despite the fact that there was no formal complaint about them. Police repeatedly told the protesters not to walk in traffic, and, according to LeBrun, the warnings were ignored. “The Police Department values each demonstrator’s peaceful right to free speech,” he said in a statement, “however, the safety of all is paramount.”

In the two hours before the arrests, Tuosto and other organizers marched with hundreds of protesters north on Front Street to Merrick Avenue, and then east on Hempstead Turnpike.

One of the main chants from the demonstrators was, “Mama! I can’t breathe!” echoing the last words of George Floyd, who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis on Memorial Day, when a officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

Tuosto and his co-organizers periodically halted the march and handed a bullhorn to whoever wanted to speak. At one point, Michael Motamedian, of East Meadow, let a group prayer.

One protester who spoke to the crowd was a 9-year-old boy named Channing. “How come Martin Luther King Jr. spent his life for people to be equal, and to this day, in 2020, nothing’s changed?” Channing said. “. . . This is a part of history, so we have to make it the best it can be.”

Later, Tiandre Tuosto addressed the crowd, and noted the number of police officers who were on patrol. “Look behind you. Look in front of you,” Tiandre said. “Those are all police officers. But they’re not here for a bad cause. They’re here for a good cause.”

Roughly 20 minutes later, police arrested Tuosto, before taking his brother and the third protester into custody as well.

Tensions initially arose when the leaders halted the march at the intersection of Merrick Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike. According to county Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder, the demonstrators stopped traffic, and tried to move the protest to a section of Hempstead Turnpike not originally blocked off by police.

Ryder and County Executive Laura Curran defended the officers’ actions in a joint statement that echoed Lebrun’s. It read, “It became necessary” to make the arrests for “the demonstrators’ safety.”

“Police repeatedly made attempts to keep protesters off moving lanes of traffic,” the statement continued. “This safety precaution was met with strong opposition and resistance, which resulted in the arrests of these subjects.”

Curran and Ryder’s statement complimented the way police responded to more than 75 protests across Nassau County. Police have and will continue to support peaceful protests, it read, but demonstrations must remain “safe and orderly.”