Chaumtoli Huq, 42, a human rights lawyer who was formerly the top attorney for Public Advocate Tish James, filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court. She claimed NYPD officers used “unreasonable and wholly unprovoked force” when they arrested her without cause following a pro-Palestinian rally in July. She was arrested for blocking the sidewalk in Times Square while waiting for her husband and two children to use the bathroom, said the New York Daily News (9.3.14).
Huq, who is Muslim, was wearing a traditional South Asian tunic and waiting outside Ruby Tuesday when she was told to leave by an officer, reported the New York Daily News.
In her complaint, Huq said that she told the police “I’m not in anybody’s way. Why do I have to move? What’s the problem?” NYPD officer Ryan Lathrop and his partner then pinned her against a wall, searched through her purse without probable cause and arrested her, reported Gothamist (9.3.14).
In her lawsuit Huq claimed the NYPD acted with “unreasonable and wholly unprovoked force” and that their behavior was “characteristic of a pattern and practice of the NYPD in aggressive overpolicing of people of color and persons lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights.”
Huq was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, reported the New York Daily News.
This incident raises important issues about racial and ethnic profiling and police response. When police overstep their authority and violate a person’s civil rights, it may have repercussions.
A person who believes that she or he has been subjected to a stop, search, or arrest based on his or her race or ethnicity has a number of legal options. Civil rights lawsuits may ensure that the officers involved are held accountable for their actions, appropriate standards for use of force are followed, and victims obtain monetary damages to which they are entitled.
A person who believes that he or she was targeted by police because of race or ethnicity may sue the officer, the department, and-or the municipality responsible for the conduct for violating civil rights. Under federal law, law enforcement officers and other governmental authorities may not treat people of different races or ethnicities differently then anyone else (42 U.S.C. § 1981).
Regardless of whether profiling can be proven to have occurred, incidents like this damage the public’s trust in police officers.
The Gothamist story is “Human Rights Lawyer Arrested For Standing On NYC Sidewalk Waiting For Kids To Use Bathroom.”
The New York Daily News article is “Former top lawyer for city Public Advocate says NYPD cops roughed her up during unwarranted arrest: suit.”