NYC Public Advocate's Statement On The Arrest Of Council Member Vernikov And Protecting Protesters

October 13th, 2023

After Council Member Inna Vernikov displayed a firearm at a protest yesterday, and as demonstrations continue citywide amid the violence in the Middle East, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams released the following statement:

"In this moment of tragedy and grief overseas and in our city, we must make room for one another’s grief and humanity, and provide space and support for people to cry out in their personal and cultural pain.

"Council Member Vernikov carrying and showing off a weapon as a tool of intimidation and seeming threat of violence against protesters shows a dangerous dereliction of our duty as elected officials to help New Yorkers be and feel safe. We are relieved that she has now been charged for this action and surrendered her permit.

"It also shows the volatile conditions in our city. So many people are afraid in our city today: Jewish and Israeli New Yorkers, Palestinian and Muslim New Yorkers, and New Yorkers who want to express their support for the people closest to this pain. That fear compounds with grief, and with every story about incidents or threats of violence.

"We have an obligation to protect the rights and safety of protesters and worshippers, without over-policing either. Most of us in New York do not have the direct ability to end violence overseas, but we must do what we can, with what we have, to comfort our  neighbors and prevent escalation in our city."

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