It was a rough opening for early voting outside a polling center in Red Hook.
On Saturday, Oct. 24 a video shows Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and community activists talking to NYPD officers who asked them to remove a table set up outside the Red Hook East/Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 W 9th St., that provided hand sanitizer, PPE and voting information. According to the video, the close proximity of the set up to the center was the issue
The video then shows three officers confiscating the materials and the table.
“On the first day of early voting in Red Hook, @NYPD76Pct officers confronted community activists handing out hand PPE in front of an early polling site & then seized it,” wrote Menchaca. “This is unacceptable, the NYPD must issue clear guidelines & not escalate situations at the polls. There must be accountability. We are one city, and there should be peaceful responses by the NYPD. Anything shorter than that could lead to voter suppression.”
The NYPD responded to the situation, saying that at the request of election officials, officers asked these individuals repeatedly to comply with election rules
“After refusing to comply their property was removed,” the statement read. “Upon further discussion, they agreed to relocate to an appropriate area, and their property was returned.”
However, Menchaca contested the statement by the NYPD.
“Not true,” he responded. “I intervened on behalf of the community members whose table and materials this belonged to. Not only did I ask to step in, but Nydia Velazquez also tried to speak to the officers on site.”
The Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York stated their opinion via Twitter
“Carlos kicking off his mayoral campaign with a little illegal electioneering and a baseless smear against cops,” it read. “Here’s the truth: Police officers doing their job — as we have for 100+ years — protecting the integrity of the election and successfully diffusing this situation. Anybody who suggests otherwise is trying to gin up unrest to further their own agenda.”
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), defended the activists.
“These volunteers weren’t electioneering or obstructing access to the polls — they were supplying free PPE + pamphlets to keep their community safe + informed,” it read. “NYC is the only region in NY to mandate police at the polls — this incident shows the harm of over-reliance on policing.”