Chaumtoli Huq (via Twitter)
A human rights lawyer who was formerly the top attorney for Public Advocate Tish James was arrested for blocking the sidewalk following a pro-Palestinian rally in Times Square while waiting for her children to use the bathroom.
Chaumtoli Huq, 42, was standing outside of Ruby Tuesday on July 19th when her husband and children went into the restaurant to use the restroom. Police officers told her to keep moving down the sidewalk.
“I’m not in anybody’s way. Why do I have to move? What’s the problem?” Huq told police, according to the criminal complaint obtained by DNAinfo.
Police officer Ryan Lathrop and his partner then pinned her against a wall and arrested her.
“At that point I didn’t know what was happening. I was just thinking, ‘What’s going on?’ and all of a sudden the officer flips me [around]…he [turns] my body and presses me against the wall of the restaurant,” Huq told DNAinfo. “He shoved my left arm all the way and kept pushing it and handcuffed me. At that point I just like instinctively yelled, ‘Help!’ because I was alone. I screamed, ‘Help!’”
In her lawsuit filed Tuesday in Manhattan Federal Court, Huq claims 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, who is Muslim, says the officers searched through her purse without probable cause, and took her to the precinct before her husband and children had even returned from the restaurant. When her husband went to go find his wife at the Midtown South Precinct, officers became suspicious of him because he had a last name different than his wife’s. “In America wives take the names of their husbands,” an officer allegedly told Huq.
Huq was charged with obstructing governmental administration, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and took an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal to the charges.
The day before her arrest, Huq had taken a leave of absence from the Public Advocate’s office so she could focus her attention on human rights abuses against garment workers in her native Bangladesh.
“I was hesitant to bring a case. My job is to be behind the scenes, and help all New Yorkers,” shetold the Daily News. But, upon reflection, she decided she could use her experience to “raise awareness about overpolicing in communities of color. I want there to be a dialogue on policing and community relations.”