New Jersey

NJ Police Arrest Protesters After Unrelated Brawl, Sparking Calls for Investigation

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Black Lives Matter protesters have been marching down the streets of Englewood, New Jersey, every weekend for months without any incident, but what transpired at a protest Saturday has ignited new calls for an investigation into police officers' conduct.

Demonstrators who were outside Mackay Park that evening say a confrontation between two teenage girls led police to shut down the protest and arrested protesters who tried to break up the fight. Videos from the scene showed groups of people shouting and police officers slamming one protester to the ground and arresting him.

Ainsworth Minott, a lead organizer, says a few protesters ran across the street to try to break up the fight between the girls, who were unrelated to protesters, and that's when more police were called.

"Instead of them coming and de-escalating, all they know is force against force. And this situation that happened last night, with that force, was unnecessary," Minott told NBC New York on Sunday.

Tensions escalated further when police shut down the peaceful rally and demonstrators insisted they're allowed to march just as they had been doing since May.

Victor Urbaez was one of the protesters who confronted police, which led officers to tackle him to the ground and arrest him, video shows. The 20-year-old's mother can be heard in the video screaming, "That's my son."

"There were about four to five officers who tried to tackle me down. One of them had his knee on my back, in which it was very hard to breathe," Urbaez recalled.

His mother was also arrested shortly after. "It is my motherly instinct. I got arrested for being a mother," she said.

Englewood Mayor Michael Wildes was there marching with the protesters just as he had been more months. He did not take sides but said the police were wrong to shut the rally down.

"There's no reason to shut down the protest. But when everybody was up in everyone's grill, I couldn't intercede not just only as an elected official but with a legal enforcement matter," Wildes said.

The mayor says he's calling for an independent investigation into the incident. The Englewood Police Department did not respond to NBC New York's request for comment.

Meanwhile, the protesters are looking a variety of charges including obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct. Minott is charged with assaulting a police officer.

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