“We were actively retreating, taking steps backwards,” Bernard, who suffered bruising and was sore on Sunday, told Gothamist in a phone interview. A space in the line of protesters facing police opened up when she was grabbed by police, she said. “He pulls me into a swarm of, I don’t how many cops, too many to count.”
Clingman had grabbed her by the waist while the cop who grabbed her told other officers to form a circle around her, Bernard said, adding she was grateful for him.
Bernard said she hadn’t seen such escalation from officers since the first few weeks of the protests against police violence this summer during a historic curfew, sparked after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, as well as a police raid of Abolition Park during weeks of protests at City Hall calling for defunding the NYPD.
Officers in riot gear “have been following us around the city for over 100 days,” she said.
“We didn’t expect them to actually make arrests and be as aggressive and brutal as they were,” Bernard said. “They’re very willing now to escalate and go back to the things they were doing in weeks one two and three of this movement.”