New footage of a confrontation last month between New York Police Department officers and a group of migrants in Times Square appears to contradict the story that law enforcement and conservative news outlets have been hammering for days.
Outlets like the New York Postand Fox News have reported that several men — “asylum-seeking thugs” and “punks,” in New York Post parlance — picked a fight with a pair of NYPD officers in midtown Manhattan, sharing video stills as apparent proof.
The officers had been telling the migrants to move along because they were blocking the sidewalk for pedestrians.
Footage released after a press conference Thursday, however, shows that the sidewalk was not blocked and pedestrians were able to walk by.
Law enforcement said that a man in a yellow jacket became verbally aggressive and did not comply with the officers’ request, and the fight devolved from there.
But the video footage appears to show the man in the yellow jacket, who was pushing a baby stroller, start moving away before being confronted by one of the NYPD officers. The man, later identified as Yohenry Brito, is grabbed by the arm and shoved against a wall.
The local news blog Hell Gate was first to report on the discrepancies.
Body-camera footage leading up to the fight shows a group of men singing along to a song in Spanish as they move. Brito can be heard saying that one of the officers looked like “Ugly Betty,” the TV character played by America Ferrera, according to Hell Gate.
At Thursday’s press conference, NYPD Chief of Detectives Joseph Kenny summarized the start of the incident by saying that “a large group of these males, Mr. Brito included, are standing in front of the shelter and they’re blocking 42nd Street, forcing people to walk around them.”
“Officers respond, the lieutenant and the police officer in uniform. The crowd is given direction to please disperse, that they’re blocking the sidewalk,” Kenny went on. “Everybody disperses except for Mr. Brito. He turned around and got confrontational with the police officers. He refused the lawful order. They attempted to place him under arrest, and the melee begins with the officers trying to take Mr. Brito into custody, and the next thing you know they’re being attacked by 13 other people.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said that Brito was “quite literally at the center of this assault,” which “sickened” him.
But the footage appears to show the men following orders until one of the officers yanks a member of the group away.
Seven of the migrants have been charged for their alleged roles in the fight that subsequently broke out. Some are accused of physically grabbing or kicking the officers, while others are accused of acting as accomplices. The NYPD said that it is still searching for some of the other people in the video footage.
For months, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has been transporting migrants to metropolitan areas around the country, including New York, which has struggled to keep pace with basic needs of those arriving. The New York Times reported that Abbott’s campaign accounts for only a fraction of New York’s migrants; others arrive of their own accord or have asked to be transported to the city.
Mayor Eric Adams (D) has alleged that migrants are destroying New York City, leading to a spike in property theft and destruction, even though crime statistics show a largely stagnant crime rate, per the Times.