NYPD officer caught on video punching pro-Gaza protester during Brooklyn rally

Disturbing footage has captured New York Police Department officers slamming a pro-Gaza protester to the ground and appearing to repeatedly punch him.

In two separate videos posted on X, several officers are seen tackling the protester, holding him by the neck and then hitting him.

Next to him, a different officer is seen slamming a second protester into the ground before holding him there with his body weight. The officer then appears to press the protester’s head into the ground.

Officers are heard repeatedly telling the surrounding crowd, including the videographers capturing the encounters, to “back up.”

Peter Hambrecht, one of the videographers, said that one of the protesters was bleeding from the head as officers escorted them to a police van.

Moments before the physical altercation with the officers, footage shows demonstrators carrying a banner across the street. They did not appear to be interacting with law enforcement.

A New York Police Department officer pictured punching an anti-war demonstrator during a protest in Brooklyn on 18 March (Katie Smith)

The Independent has contacted the New York Police Department for comment.

The incidents came as demonstrators took to the streets of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on Saturday for a protest marking the 76th anniversary of the Nabka, when some 700,000 Palestinians were driven from or fled their homes during the Arab-Israeli war soon after Israel was established.

That mass eviction created a community of six million refugees living in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, The Associated Press reported. The Nabka refugees and their descendants make up some 75 per cent of Gaza’s population.

At the protest in Bay Ridge, organised by pro-Palestine advocacy organisation Within our Lifetime, officials said that 40 arrests were made.

The New York American Civil Liberties Union condemned the police response at the protest.

“The aggressive escalation by the NYPD’s Strategic Response Group yesterday in Bay Ridge was a violation of New Yorkers’ right to speak out and risks chilling political expression,” the civil rights advocacy organisation said in a statement.

Nerdeen Kiswani, founder of Within Our Lifetime, told The New York Times that police were “indiscriminately” grabbing people off the street and sidewalk.

Police used similar physical force with several other protesters on Saturday, the Times reported.

Protests took place all across the US, including in the nation’s capital, to commemorate the Nabka this weekend.

Police and anti-war protesters clash in Brooklyn, New York during a demonstration on 18 May organised for the 76th anniversary of the Nabka (REUTERS)
New York Police Department officers arrest a demonstrator during the protest in Brooklyn on 18 May (REUTERS)

This comes as Palestinian officials say that Israel’s offensive in Gaza has killed at least 35,000 people, many of them women and children.

The United Nations and other international organisations have accused Israel of creating a man-made famine in Gaza.

However, Israel denies these accusations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisting that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) is simply responding to the 7 October attacks, when Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took over 250 hostages.

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