The NYPD has been hit with lawsuits alleging that they are unfairly targeting businesses that cater to Brooklyn’s Caribbean community.
Former City Councilman Kendall Stewart and his son, Omar, have both filed suit against the NYPD as well as the city and claim that their lounge, Cafe Omar, has been unfairly targeted by the NYPD.
Along with other nightlife business owners, the Stewarts claim that the NYPD routinely tries to shut down their operations and their events. This is especially true, they said, right around the time of the West Indian Day Parade.
“It seems like they are targeting all of the West Indian clubs,” Kendall Stewart told the New York Daily News. “They victimize you when you do anything. They’ll send a squad in there.”
For example, he said, the NYPD shut down a planned event in August 2016 without giving him any reason for the shutdown. The event had been sold out, and Stewart went to the precinct to try to work out a better way of communicating.
But when he talked to the police, they told him that he should just refrain from scheduling anything at all around the Labor Day weekend parade.
“The NYPD did not want any crimes in the jurisdiction of the 67th Precinct,” the lawsuit alleges.
They also told him to avoid scheduling anything at all around the holidays, like Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.
What’s more, in 2017, the NYPD would routinely visit the cafe. They told the business that they didn’t have a liquor license, even though Stewart showed them that they did, in fact, have one.
Ultimately, the NYPD took $5,000 worth of alcohol from the establishment.
Omar was even arrested for not having a proper liquor license, and it’s that arrest that is the basis of his lawsuit.
The NYPD’s response
But the NYPD says that they have good reason for coming to the Stewart’s place so often: there are plenty of noise and overcrowding complaints.
“The NYPD responds to locations based on community complaints, including crime complaints and 311 and 911 calls,” NYPD spokesman Lt. John Grimpel said. “As you can see by the history of this establishment, it’s a problematic location.”
But the Stewarts believes that it’s racism, not noise complaints, that has the NYPD on their backs.
“The defendants did not treat white-owned businesses in the same manner as they treated the Caribbean-owned business,” the lawsuit says.