We all remember Manhattan Beach right? They have had more of their fair share of crazy news but the flow of this crazy news doesn’t seem to ever stop.
I know some of you hate me for even bringing up Manhattan Beach on this site, but I have to say, some really important stuff going outside our little world. Think of Horton hears a who.
Friday, June 6th was senior cut day for some local schools, and then they head down to Manhattan Beach for a day of sun and fun, but the past two years have been anything but fun. Last year there was the infamous email from Dr. Ron calling beachgoers “thugs”. This year in anticipation of the return of the “thugs”, the residents have been demanding all year for a plan addressing “Senior Cut Day” and all that comes with it.
Well Senior Cut came and it did not go well for beachgoers their civil rights went out the window. Before I get to that really big news. Here is what I personally saw.
Knowing senior cut day was Friday. I made sure to at least make an effort to get down there and catch the “thugs” in action. On my way down to Manhattan Beach I had heard that Gene Berardelli, Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic’s attorney, was arrested for disorderly conduct. I was surprised, mainly because this is a guy who sits on the 61 PRECINCT COMMUNITY COUNCIL and I couldn’t see him getting arrested.
With this in mind I headed to the beach.
Right away I had asked one of the officers whom I thought was in command (white shirt) if there was any incidents on the beach. He responded that there weren’t any. I had asked if he heard about anyone getting arrested, he said he hadn’t heard of anyone. I knew this was false so I walked around and was even more surprised by officers actions.
I saw an empty beach with a few small groups of minority students having fun in the sun. Officers then drove up to them and asked them for their ID’s. They complied and then the officers said they were going to run their ID’s. I saw this incident as harassing people who were doing nothing to warrant such a request. The students followed the officers to get their ID’s back and it seemed like they were being rounded up, to force them off the beach.
That didn’t stop the cops from having a bit of fun.
I saw some plain clothes officers speed racing through the sand with their patrol vehicles. It was obvious that this was for fun because of the speed they were going. After doing a lap another officer would race around, this went on for quite awhile.
I didn’t stick around long because there was really nothing going on. All of the action had already happened with Mr. Berardelli’s arrest.
Here is his account of the events: it may seem like a long read, but it is very important!
This will be the first and last time that I will address the incident that occurred with me in Manhattan Beach because (1) it is now a matter for the courts to hear, and (2) frankly, the issue shouldn’t be about me. There will also be accounts missing in here – some lost due to adrenaline, some I just forgot to add because I’ve told it so many times to so many people. So, here goes:
At or around 12:15 PM, I received a phone call from my sister’s fiance, who was going to be taking a Coney Island Bound Q Train to Coney Island from the Sheepshead Bay Rd. station. He called to let my mother and I know that the police were ordering all Black and Hispanic children and teens off of the Coney Island bound Q Train and ordering them to head back uptown, despite the fact that many of the children and teens told the Police that they lived in Coney Island. According to him, they had even stopped a Manhattan bound Q in order to wait for all of the children and teens to board. Shortly thereafter, we received a phone call from my father – who had just dropped my sister’s fiance at the Sheepshead Bay Rd. train station – telling my mother and I that there were many police cars on Emmons Avenue and they were aggressively dispersing groups of teens, preventing them from accessing the footbridge to Manhattan Beach. My mother and I then decided to investigate the matter for ourselves (much like we had done in the past as members of our neighborhood civic association). We called CB15 Chair Terry Scavo, and we got into my car and drove down Emmons Avenue.
We stopped the car by a group of black teens walking eastbound on Emmons Avenue and asked them if they were denied access to Manhattan Beach. They answered “yes” and gave us a story of how the police had snatched one of their cell phones. We then parked the car, and walked to the footbridge that goes into Manhattan Beach. Many groups of black and minority teens were walking from Manhattan Beach towards us, all with the same story – the Beach was closed. Some said that the cop posted in a scooter said that they could go to Brighton Beach or Coney Island, but that Manhattan Beach was closed to them. It was clear to see the dejection on many peoples’ faces. We then asked a group of minority teens to walk two by two across the bridge to see if they would be sent back. They were.
My mother then proceeded walk across the footbridge herself to ask this police officer if the beach was closed and if he was stopping minority children and teens from entering the Manhattan Beach neighborhood (Now mind you, by this time, things were not going as smoothly as this narration may seem – both I and my mother and others were very angry and distressed, so when I say “proceeded to ask”, you can infer that it wasn’t in a friendly calm manner. Respectfully beligerent probably describes it best). According to my mother, the officer in the scooter told her that the Beach was not closed to all, just closed to the teens for “Cut Day”, but wouldn’t answer her as to why the teens could not come over the footbridge, and said that if you want more information, then see my captain. According to my mother, three white teens actually exited the footbridge, and headed down Exeter St., presumably to the Beach. Seeing this, She then proceeded to say to the officer “Are you actually picking and choosing who can and cannot cross the bridge?!?” He didn’t answer. She then came back over the footbridge, relayed the above information to me, and we then decided to escort the teens with us across the footbridge in order to find out more information as to who could and couldn’t enter the Beach. The cop in the scooter didn’t stop us, raising his hands in a flippant manner.
We then walked down Exeter St towards Oriental Blvd without incident. On Oriental Blvd., a squad car, #2659, pulled up and an officer screamed at us “Go back, the Beach is closed”. We then asked what was going on, and let them know that the teens with us were “with us” (in essence, taking responsibility for them) and the officer in the passenger seat became very beligerent and arrogant when we said that we were going to take up the matter with the captain, mouthing off something to us that I currently can’t recall. Mom screamed “this is what makes people feel like criminals!” as the car drove off. As he drove off, I took a picture of the squad car to remember their treatment.
When we reached the entrance to the Beach at Falmouth St.,there was a squad car blocking the entrance way, but there were children and adults playing in the playground area. I noted that there were no minority children in this area. Again, we asked why the beach was closed to another officer near the squad car. The officer was more cordial than the other and offered to allow my mother in, but not the teens behind us. We then asked him to radio whoever was in charge. This request was met with more scorn by a second officer who pulled up on a bicycle. Obviously by now, things weren’t cordial, and by this time, many of the teens who walked with us were leaving – a day of fun gone.
A Lt. Harrington pulls up and very loudly and aggressively told us that the beach was closed because of “an incident”. When we asked him to elaborate, he did not. We then asked that if there was an incident, then why wasn’t the entire park evacuated and why the other children and adults in the playground were present. He said that it wasn’t our business, and that the children were on a “field trip” and allowed to stay in the beach playground area (now as I think of it, it seems odd that if there was an “incident” that many would be evacuated while others would be allowed to stay by virtue of a “field trip”). We then asked why some officers were telling teens that the Beach was closed only to them, to which he responded that he didn’t know. When we objected to the selective nature of the evacuation of the Beach, Lt. Harrington became angrier, stating that it was “Senior Cut Day for this beach” as if that justified any action he chose.
When pressed further, Lt. Harrington made an aggressive step towards me.
I asked angrily “What? Are you trying to intimidate me?”, or something to that effect ( i might have said “What? Are you going to hit me?”, I’m not quite sure)
“Yeah”, he said. He then proceeded to shove me with both hands into my chest.
I said “You can’t lay your hands on me like that!” and readied my camera to take his picture, with the intent of pursuing a complaint against him.
While covering his badge, Lt. Harrington then told the officers, who had surrounded us, to cuff me and arrest me for disorderly conduct. I gave my camera to my mother (who you can imagine was livid), and when I asked if she could they could hand my cell phone to my mother, Lt. Harrington angrily ordered “No, That’s it! Put him in the car”
I was put into a squad car, and after a few minutes of sitting there was taken to the 61st by P.O. Quinn and P.O. Riviello. Both officers were professional, courteous (helping me in and out of the car) and acted fairly towards me at all times. My belongings were cataloged, and I was taken to a holding cell for a few minutes while a summons was written up. After I received the summons, I was released.
The real tragedy of the day is not what happened to me, but what happened to these kids. My mother witnessed teens crying,saying to her that they were scared of the police. Kids saying they were “chased” from the beach so quickly, that they left without their shoes and were barefoot walking Emmons Avenue.
The real tragedy was witnessing firsthand the police’s arrogance, and in the case of Lt. Harrington, the abuse of power and discretion. The very idea that one could think he could bully and shove people who posed no threat of bodily harm without provocation is abhorrent. My mother even recounted how the officer in squad car #2659 even drove around to arrogantly gloat over my arrest. How sickening.
The real tragedy is that one neighborhood wields so much power as to command a police precinct to violate civil rights.
The real tragedy is that one neighborhood demands and receives protection at the detriment of others. If these teens were so dangerous, why were they “herded” (for lack fo a better word) to other neighborhoods where said “dangerous” teens – now disgruntled – are left to their own devices.
The real tragedy is that civil rights is dead in Manhattan Beach.
It seems Manhattan Beach has managed to yell the loudest and now has the 61 precinct in their pockets. Why were the police telling kids to go to other beaches? Why would the other beaches allow “truant” students? Why was there no stepped up presence in Sheepshead bay?
This is still a developing story and it seems that it will not go away. Its going to be a fun summer for Manhattan Beachers.
Here is a video from fox 5 news covering what happened last year, in response to Senior Cut Day.