Peaceful protests in East Meadow, New York turned contentious Friday night when police were seen on video shoving a black protester to the ground.
A video of the protest went viral on Twitter Saturday and shows Terrel Tuosto of West Hempstead, a nearby town on Long Island, walking alongside Nassau County police officers.
Tuosto is told repeatedly by officers to “move to the side” of the street and he responds, “we’ve got this whole street.” Officers are seen in the video again telling Tuosto and other protesters to remain on the southbound side of the street, and Tuosto responds, “I have the right to walk where I want to walk.”
Tuosto continues to walk before an officer appears to stop abruptly in front of him, causing Tuosto to bump into the officer.
The officers are then seen restraining Tuosto and shoving him into the ground, the video shows. Protesters can be heard on the video yelling at police officers, defending Tuosto by saying he isn’t resisting arrest.
A press release from Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said three protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct and said that police repeatedly made attempts to keep protesters away from moving lanes of traffic.
“This safety precaution was met with strong opposition and resistance which resulted in the arrests of these subjects,” the release said, adding that the arrests come after days of peaceful protests with very few arrests.
Ryder also provided an emailed statement to CNN, in which he said the county police “has provided security for thousands of people at over 80 mostly peaceful protests over the past two weeks.” He also said in the statement that the department supports free speech.
Tuosto confirmed to CNN that he is the person in the video and said he sustained injuries to his knee — which had recently been operated on — as well as his back and neck. He claims officers held him down with a knee on both his back and his neck. Officers charged him with disorderly conduct, Tuosto said.
“They treat me as a criminal but I am not a criminal,” Tuosto said. “They tried to scare us, intimidate us, discourage us. That’s not going to work.”