Councilman 'taken down' during Zuccotti Park raid and detained for 17 hours

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UPDATED at 2:17 p.m. 11/17/11

Marble Hill Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez was arrested at 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, two blocks from a police raid on Occupy Wall Street protesters in Zuccotti Park. Mr. Rodriguez, who was detained for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, sustained an injury to his head during the raid, which began shortly after 1 a.m.

Mr. Rodriguez was released from police custody at approximately 8 p.m. on Tuesday after spending 17 hours in jail.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Rodriguez, surrounded by his colleagues in the city council and friends in the state legislature, spoke of his support of the Occupy Wall Street protests and datailed the circumstances of his arrest.

Mr. Rodriguez, who last week led a march from the Washington Heights to Zuccotti Park, said he went downtown early Tuesday morning in his official capacity (even wearing a suit and tie) after learning police intended to raid the protest. He said his wife told him three times not to get arrested because he had a meeting at a school for his 5-year-old daughter the following morning.

Mr. Rodriguez said he was crossing the street on Broadway, two blocks from Zuccotti Park, when officers stopped him. He said he told them he wanted to go to the park to see what was happening and was “suddenly taken down” by a police officer.

Mr. Rodriguez said he identified himself as a city councilman, but the officers assaulted him, pressing his face into the ground, and arrested him. At the press conference, he showed off a scrape on his right hand, as well as one on his face.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not address Mr. Rodriguez’s arrest at a press conference he gave after Zuccotti Park was emptied on Tuesday and his office did not respond to a call for comment. 

Brookfield Office Properties, which owns Zuccotti Park, sent a letter to Mr. Bloomberg dated Nov. 14 asking the NYPD to enforce a law that prohibits people from setting up tents and sleeping in the park. However, there are reports that the NYPD had been practicing and planning the raid for weeks.

According to NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, 142 people were arrested at the park and 50 to 60 more on surrounding streets. Journalists and legal observers were arrested at the scene, according to news reports.

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