News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Tues. April 3, 2012: The CARICOM Consular Corps in New York is slamming the New York Police Department following the arrest of Ambassador of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Camillo Gonsalves, last Wednesday.
The Corps met in an emergency meeting yesterday, April 2, and expressed concern over the arrest and what they said is “a pattern of conflict developing between the NYPD and the Caribbean community.”
The Corps, in a statement obtained by News Americas, said it is of the view that the latest act of March 25th sets a dangerous precedent by the NYPD and does not augur well for good relations between the NYPD, the Caribbean Diplomatic community, and all Caribbean nationals.
As a result, the Corps said it has decided to “put on hold all joint activities with the Corps and the NYPD until an amicable solution can be reached in this matter.”
The body said it will also write to NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the U.S. State Department and the Society of Foreign Consuls in New York to voice concern over the matter and indicate their decision.
The Corps, however, said “it is hoping for an amicable and speedy resolution to this matter so that we can continue to work towards good relations between the NYPD and the entire Caribbean community.”
Gonsalves, was reportedly handcuffed by an overzealous New York City cop on Wednesday, March 28th. Ambassador Gonsalves told The Associated Press that he was arrested after stepped out of his official car, through a barricade in front of the U.N. building in midtown, New York City.
Ambassador Gonsalves said as he began walking to the UN building he was confronted by a New York police officer on Wednesday, who shouted: “What do you think the barricades are there for?”
Gonsalves said the officer ran into the building, “grabbed me by my neck and shoulders, spun me around and said, `Didn’t you see me talking to you.'”
Gonsalves told the AP, he replied: “You couldn’t have been talking to me.”
But the cop persisted, and demanded identification. “I said, `Why? Am I under arrest?’ He said, `Well you are now.'”
“At that point he handcuffed me, with assistance from other officers he called as a backup,” Gonsalves was quoted as saying, even as other ambassadors began to tell the officer he was in the wrong as Gonsalves has diplomatic immunity. The ambassador was handcuffed for 20 minutes.
“The officer, for the first time, (then) inquired who I was,” Gonsalves told the AP. “I told him. He called for his superiors. The U.S. State Department, as host country, was also called and they sent representatives.”
“The initial position of the NYPD was that I was disorderly, and something should be done because of my disorderly conduct,” added the ambassador.
But Gonsalves said after discussions with him, the State Department representatives, and the other diplomats, “the NYPD were persuaded to release the handcuffs, and I’m back in my office now.”
“Separate and apart from any diplomatic immunities, I personally think the officer was wrong and committed an assault against me,” Ambassador Gonsalves was quoted as saying. “We will be following up. We will seek other forms of redress, but what form it will take, I can’t say.”
The NYPD has said Gonsalves was detained in handcuffs after ignoring the officer’s repeated requests to stop and identify himself. He was released as soon as he produced identification, she said.
The incident is reminiscent of the arrest of Grenadian-American, New York City councilmember, Jumaane Williams at the annual West Indian Labor Day Carnival last September. Williams, was arrested when he walked through an NYPD barrier. Both men are black.