A $125 million notice of claim filed by a local watering hole against Deputy Inspector Emmanuel Gonzalez, the popular commanding officer of the 72nd Precinct, has brought forth an outpouring of community support, clearly apparent during a rally held late last week in Sunset Park.
Imran Jairam, the owner of Love and Lust, 225 47th Street, alleged that Gonzalez demanded contributions to Puerto Rican relief efforts to forestall enforcement of violations at the bar, according to a story that was first reported in the Daily News.
“This man has a family and small children that will no doubt encounter difficult circumstances based solely on the accusations of a club that has been nothing but a source of complaints since the day it opened four years ago,” contended Delvis Valdes, an attorney and longtime Sunset Park resident who organized the Friday, May 25 rally outside his law office, 4505 Fifth Avenue. “In fact, over the last two years it has generated over 450 911 calls.”
The event was attended by representatives of the 72nd Precinct Community Council, the United Senior Center, Asian Civilian Police on Patrol, the Sunset Park Lions Club, United Volunteers, the 46th Street Block Association, the National Latino Officers Association, as well as community activists, businesspeople and community residents.
Chris Monahan of the NYPD Captains Endowment Association also chimed in.
“Look at the community coming out here for the inspector,” he said. “His concern is quality of life. The community is calling the police and asking for help. Once again, we are seeing a frivolous lawsuit being filed against the city by an overzealous attorney to try and generate bad press; it happens time and time again.”
“I’ve known Gonzalez for number of years,” added Community board 7 member Edgar Alvarez. “I went on a trip to Puerto Rico with him in April. I got to spend time with him. He’s a man of discipline, a humble person and a giving man. I can tell you, as CO of the precinct, he’s tried to mediate different issues between different communities and groups, and bring everyone together to work as one.”
Dennis Flores, founder of El Grito de Sunset Park, who helped with the local relief effort, said that, in fact, an owner of Love and Lust had offered help to Puerto Rico in his hearing.
“I was present when one of the owners went to Assemblymember Felix Ortiz’s office to offer support to Puerto Rico, ask us what was needed, make offers of plane tickets,” Flores said. “He offered us the sky to try to resolve issues we were having. He was a willing participant and volunteer in offering support, so now at this opportune time that they are trying to divert attention from the real problems and scandals at the club. It’s absurd to shake down a club to bring relief to people in Puerto Rico.”
According to the Daily News article, Gonzalez put pressure on Jairam via text messages such as, “This is critically important,” and “I must get that generator to that clinic.”
“They’re holding out as evidence a text message that says it’s critically important that this generator gets to a doctor in Puerto Rico,” Flores added. “That’s not criminal. They’re using that to drum this up and attacking this man in a way that isn’t justified.”
To add to the controversy, rapper Curtis Jackson known as 50 Cent, who frequents the club, is being investigated by police for alleged aggressive harassment.
According to authorities, the musician posted a televised report of the story on Instagram and wrote, “Get the strap” on the post, directed towards Gonzalez. Allegedly, the phrase translates to “Get the gun.” Following the post, many of Jackson’s followers wrote threatening comments on the post, such as “Blast this fool.” According to police reports, Gonzalez is alarmed and fears for his safety as many of the over 820 comments are threatening in nature.
“There is a formal complaint on file for Aggravated Harassment and detectives are investigating,” said an NYPD spokesperson.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson for 50 Cent said, “Months ago, Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson filed to trademark the phrase ‘Get The Strap,’ a slogan he has been posting across all of his social media platforms. It is posted in connection with photographs and videos, including many featuring just him or things he is promoting. Taken in its proper context, the specific post in question was neither intended as, nor could reasonably be interpreted as, a threat or call to violence against anyone. So the record is clear, Mr. Jackson does not condone or promote the use of violence against anyone. ‘Get The Strap’ is a playful phrase used by Mr. Jackson to punctuate absurd and outrageous situations.”
Gonzalez has not yet made a statement regarding the allegations.