N.Y.P.D. Defends Contentious Arrests of ‘Violence Interrupters’

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The New York Police Department continued on Friday to defend its arrests of two conflict mediators in Brooklyn in February, releasing body-camera and surveillance videos of the episode that police officials said showed one of the workers striking an officer.

The arrests of the mediators, one of whom was injured while being swarmed by officers, exposed tensions between the police and those known as violence interrupters, who work for city-funded organizations and try to defuse street-level conflicts before they escalate, including into gun violence.

The mediators, Mark Johnson and Dequann Stanley, who are longtime employees of the violence-interrupter group Save Our Streets in Crown Heights, were arrested in the episode and issued summonses for disorderly conduct. The charges were later dismissed.

The men filed court papers indicating that they intended to sue the city as a result of the arrests, which they said occurred as they tried to calm a man who was being taken into police custody.

But at a briefing this week and in a social media post on Friday, police officials said the men had disrupted officers as they arrested the man, who was ultimately charged with fentanyl possession.

The arrests and the ensuing fallout pose a challenge to Mayor Eric Adams, whose public safety strategy leans heavily on expanding the use of interrupters, a community-based supplement to traditional policing that has taken root in other major U.S. cities. Last year, Mr. Adams announced $86 million in funding for the interrupter system in the 2024 fiscal year.

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