The Mayor of Newark has ordered an investigation after a plain-clothes officer broke a teenager’s arm during an attempt to clear a street of school protesters.
The protest began when the students blocked the street near the headquarters of the Newark Public School District to protest new policies imposed by the district’s superintendent. A video of the incident shows a tug-of-war between a 17-year-old girl and a Newark police officer over a padlock.
“Get your hands off her! Get your hands off her!” someone says in the video. One of the protesters posted the video of the incident to the Facebook page “Newark Students Union.”
The teenager who had her arm broken, Kristen Towkaniuk, said that the officer didn’t identify himself as a plain clothes officer:
He was in plain clothing and didn’t identify himself as an officer. I kept yelling, ‘You do not have consent to touch me.’
Towkaniuk was one of a group of students who had chained themselves together at the intersection in protest; she says that when she unlocked the padlock to cross the street, one of the officers came over and tried to take it away from her:
The lock was in these two fingers. Like the hook was like this and then the officer was pulling this way, and the lock this way. So it was like pulling my arm in separate directions.
She believes that was how her arm was fractured; she was diagnosed with a broken arm after her parents took her an emergency room following the protests. Her mother says that she was there for the whole incident:
I knew not to attack, I yelled and screamed.
Internal Affairs released a statement in regards to the incident, saying that the mayor “has been personally involved in this situation” and that “he is making it a top priority for the Police Department.” They also announced that they were leading an investigation into the events.
Kristen Towkaniuk expressed concern and surprise over the incident, saying that it was “disgusting” that the police officer thought it was “alright” to struggle with her in such a manner that it broke her arm.
As for me, I’m surprised that’s all they felt okay doing.